Researched, assembled and organized by: Dan Berentson, Josef and Larry Kunzler
Index prepared by Larry Kunzler, 10/2/2005








faber ferry is safe enough says official

W. M. Craft, marine safety inspector for the state department of safety, set at rest all argument and misunderstanding about the Faber ferry this week by stating that the Ferry had never been condemned for school buses and that it has been maintained compliance with all state requirements, as well as his personal recommendations.  Through some misunderstanding the people across the ferry had been refusing to send their pupils across the ferry on the school bus, and for the past month have been bombarding officials with protests and argument supposedly based on Mr. Craft’s previous routine inspection at which he suggested that the bow plates be strengthened and a small leak repaired.  This was done but parents still refused to allow the children to cross. . . . In the recent trouble, he believed the misunderstanding arose from idle conversation as he makes his official report only to the county engineers and to the state office.  He did not order the ferry closed to school traffic as he found the ferry in good operating condition.  His recommendations of re-planking and repair were not of an emergency nature.

Faber Ferry


Rumors that ferry was unsafe were untrue.




The Faber ferry argument is rather an unfortunate and futile gesture that can do no one any good and do a lot of damage.  No one has ever conceded that a river ferry was an ideal method of transportation.  It just happens to be the cheapest and the only kind we have.  It is also logical reasoning that the county engineers are not going to tempt fate by operating a scow in dangerous condition.  A bit of trust in those who must live in fear of an accident on the ferry is a much better trust than that of a sticker placed on the ferry twice a year.  A sticker merely says that on one single day the ferry appeared to one man to be in good condition.  The ferry is no safer now than it was last year or will be next month.  It will not be entirely safe until it is ground on the river bank for good.  Not a complaint in the world can change the truth of this statement – and that is exactly where the proposition will stand until the bridge is completed.

Faber Ferry


“The ferry is no safer now than it was last year or will be next month.”



finish experiments at baker river power dam

The international Salmon Commission, which is using the Baker River dam in this city for experimental purposes, completed a series of experiments here this week on the salmon run of the Baker River.  . . .  The principal problem to be solved was the question of whether or not the young fish, coming down the lake behind the dam, would swim deep enough to enter the turbine inlets 80 feet below the surface.  This and other questions pertaining to the run kept a crew of four men busy for the past six weeks.  . . .  It is definitely established that the Baker river runs are dropping each year.  Experiments here will be used in determining methods of building up the runs.  Members of the crew were Roy Hamilton, Fred Andrews and Owen Hughes of British Columbia.

Lower Baker Dam/Fish Issue



Test showed “It is definitely established that the Baker river runs are dropping each year.”



county river jobs done

Two river control projects in this area were virtually complete this week as the county crews finished up projects designed to ease river damage this winter.  One job was a 4,200 cubic foot jetty, built at Devil’s Elbow on the south side of the Skagit above Concrete.  This jetty will block out a slough on the south side of the river and eliminate any current through there in high water.  The flood waters would ordinarily go into the slough and could damage the right-of-way of the proposed highway from Faber to the Dalles on that side of the river.  Devil’s Elbow is the big bend in the Skagit just above the Overnell place.  At Rockport a similar job was done on the slough there, a 3,500 yard rock fill being made to close the east end of the slough.  Purpose of the work is to protect the ferry landing in high water and to keep the river from cutting into valuable farm land.

Devils Elbow Located


See 8/20/21 C.H..  Devil’s Elbow is the big bend in the Skagit just above the Overnell place.”


Skagit County blocked off upriver sloughs.



working fast on the dalles road contract

Activity stepped up even more at The Dalles this week as the Bay Construction Co. really began to move on their job of building the approach road to the Skagit river bridge.  A big cat and a shovel were on the job Wednesday to start knocking down the hill between old Grasmere and the Dalles road.  The hillside has been cleared from the moving of the dirt.

Dalles Bridge


Road construction to new bridge started.



flood waters again near high peak

Almost exactly one year from the date of the worst flood in the past 30 years on the Skagit River, warm rains and wind combined to give the folk along the river banks another bad scare.  The water rose to a crest of 21.6 feet at Mt. Vernon Sunday, but did little damage.  The crest a year ago was 26.5 ft.  In the upper valley ferries had to cease operation for a short time and water did cover the road for a while at the slough just below Hamilton.  The Baker dam was able to hold back a good share of the raise in the Baker River, only 14 gates being opened to hold the flow level.  High water continues, though the river is dropping somewhat.  The run-off will ease the flood situation considerably. 

11/26/50 Flood Event


No reading for Concrete by USGS.  Mt. Vernon reached 68,400 cfs or 28.19 on gage which by this time had been moved to the bridge between Burlington & Mt. Vernon.  Old gage reading would have been approx. 20 feet at the Moose Hall.  Baker Dam a player on lessening flood flows.



Skagit rises foot here this morning

. . . Nearly three-quarters of an inch of rain in 24 hours up to 8 a.m. today, coupled with moderately warm winds have continued to raise the river more than two inches per hour.  Rainfall in the 24-hour period as reported by the experiment station was .71 inch, making 1.41 inches since last Saturday.

River Rises 2 inches per hour



Skagit rising fast upriver; dike breaks

At 1 p.m. the river was at the 25.1 level in Mt. Vernon, 1.4 feet above the 1949 crest.  A shortage of sacks and workers in some districts hampered the job, but dike strengthening was going ahead at a rapid pace.  . . .  The county engineer’s office predicted a 28.5 foot level in Mt. Vernon by 9 p.m. almost two feet above the a November 1949 crest . . .  The river was up to 38.85 at Concrete this morning and continuing to rise.  Rain was still falling upriver at noon, but a cool wave was reported coming in from the north, which might check the river rise later.  . . .  Water boiling through a 40-foot gap in the dike on the George Moore farm, on the south bank of the North Fork just below the bridge west of Conway, had covered over 1,000 acres of pasture-land on the northwest side of the island west of Fir Island at noon and blocked all but very pressing traffic on the south approach highway to the bridge.  . . .  Although the river is still two feet short of the top of the dike in most places on the lower part of the river, sandbagging was needed in some spots and water continued to filter through and threaten another break farther down.  . . .  All traffic at the upper Skagit Valley was cut off at Lyman where the road is under water.  Another stretch of road above Marblemount is flooded and the road to Newhalem is closed.


Corps of Engineers 139,000 cfs Concrete (38.99), 150,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 144,000 cfs Mt. Vernon.

USGS, 1951-02-11, 138000 cfs Mt. Vernon

25.1 feet in Mt. Vernon would be 33.1 at current gage.  28.5 ft level would be 36.5 feet at current gage.


River at Concrete would continue to rise to 38.99 feet.




River still two feet below top of most dikes.



thousands of acres flooded in rich valley

The worst Skagit river flood since 1921 inundated thousands of acres of rich Skagit valley farmlands over the weekend and left two county towns, Stanwood and Hamilton, standing in water ranging up to six feet deep.  . . .  Fir Island Flooded  Water from the Conway break spread over an estimated 4,480 acres, to a depth ranging from a few inches to several feet.  . . .  Highway 99 was closed to traffic yesterday afternoon and was under water for four and a half miles today.  . . . Crested At 28.2  The river reached a crest at 28.2 at 5 a.m. yesterday and held very near to that mark for several hours before feeling the effect of cooler weather on the upper Skagit.  . . .  Hamilton residents evacuated without incident but some chose to remain on the second flood of their homes.  Eight families were taken out of the flooded Nookachamps valley Saturday by civilian “ducks”.  . . .  One of the most serous threats to the dike was in the river bend area west of the Riverside bridge where leaks and boils in the road which parallels the dike caused concern throughout Saturday night and Sunday.  . . .  Across the river, from the bridge to the Avon vicinity, the dike held but showed the same tendency toward seepage, with water bubbling up in the road and adjoining fields until stopped by the sandbag treatment.   . . .  A portion of the drawrest on the West Side bridge across the Skagit was swept away and there were times at the crest of the flood when the bridge was felt to sway noticeably, but held fast.  The new rip rapping on the dike in downtown Mt. Vernon came through with flying colors and the higher level of the dike was credited with preventing serious flooding of business buildings along the riverfront.

Worst Flood Since 1921


Fir Island and Conway flooded.










Riverbend and Burlington area dikes threatened with seepage.



Portion of Westside bridge swept away..


Work on Mt. Vernon revetment credited with preventing serous damage.  See 11/13/47 MVDH article.



volunteers fight valiantly to save conway dikes—almost win battle

The break in the dike a mile south of Conway, which started from a muskrat hole and inundated some 4,500 acres of farm land between dawn and early evening yesterday, was one of the most heartbreaking features of a thoroughly heartbreaking weekend for Skagit county.  . . . Miller tried to cross the gap in his rowboat to the solid part of the dike running in the railroad trestle at Fisherman’s slough, but the bottom fell out of the boat and he saved himself by grasping a fence post.  Owen Tronsdale and another man saved him from the waters, taking him to the railroad.  . . .  Footsore, bleary-eyed and arm weary the 30 odd emergency workers thought they had won the battle against the rampaging Skagit, as they climbed the soggy dikes, carrying sandbags to over-floe points west of the town.  . . .  But still the river rose, necessitating a second or a third row of sandbags.  . . .  Dikes Like Jelly  Greatest fear was held for the dike behind the fire station to which there was access from only one point below and from either end.  Stumbling through ankle-deep mud, the men carried sacks to the top, tight-roping between the river and the side of the dike covered with blackberry vines.  . . .  Break Was Sandbagged  The breaking point was one of the first spots on the Conway dike to receive attention Saturday evening, when a crew of eight or ten made an attempt to stop what was then a “rat-hole” leak, about eight feet below the top.  Sacks were stuffed into the hole, after which others broke out and sandbags had to be piled all over the side of the dike – they held for about 10 hours.  . . .  By seven, water was coming in force down the streets of Conway and the coffee and sandwiches had been removed from the fire hall.

Muskrats Blamed For Conway Break











Conway dikes became like jelly.





Water in downtown Conway.




Flood story more than statistics; hundreds had personal interest

Muskrats and beavers better not show their heads anywhere near any Skagit valley farmer or volunteer dike worker.  These and other burrowing animals are blamed for most of the dike leaks and possibly for the breaks.  . . .  Hit three ways by the flood nobody in Skagit county had as many worries as Miss Lucille Axelson, whose farm was one of those hardest hit on Fir Island.  She and her brother are believed to have lost 80 head of stock.  In addition to her duties at home Miss Axelson is president of the Skagit Valley Red Cross chapter charged with the responsibility of feeding and housing evacuees and assisting in the rehabilitation of flooded out families and is the chairman of the diking commission in her district.

Lucille Axelson Hard Hit



21,000 acres affected by river overflow

With the Skagit River far below the danger point, flood waters that inundated an estimated 21,000 acres of Skagit Valley land over the weekend were receding in some areas. . . .  Although the acreage affected by the break below Conway and the overflow of the Samish River was greater, the heaviest damage from the Skagit’s biggest flood in 30 years was in the Fir Island area, flooded by breaks near the North Fork Bridge and leaks and overflow in other areas. A hole blasted in the sea dike was expected to gradually drain the water level to a point where the North Fork dike break could be stopped. The river ripped a hole in the dike below the North Fork bridge that permitted a virtually new channel for the raging stream wiped out the buildings at the George Moore farm and inundated half of the main section of Fir Island.

Floodwaters Receding



house, split in two, floats in hole gouged by north fork near bridge

. . .  The large old-style farmhouse, one of the landmarks in that area for many years, was hit by the full force of water pouring through a break in the North Fork dike Saturday. The river, virtually taking a new course directly through the house gouged out a hole under the dwelling deep enough to float the large structure, which split in two, the two portions resting on their sides.

George Moore House Destroyed On Fir Island During Flood



flash floods do greatest damage here

Along with the rest of the county the upper Skagit watched the flood waters recede Sunday and then began the new week by trying to calculate the amount of damage done.  This time it was not the river that caused the most grief for residents of this area, but the quick run-off of water from the mountains that brought every creek to river size and made new streams where there were none before.  These streams caused slides, dug out roads, damaged property and generally disrupted the valley.  At the same time the river flooded Hamilton, all lower sections along the river from Sedro-Woolley to Marblemount and cut off all travel to outside points.  . . .  damage was done at Birdsview where a log jam at the railroad bridge sent Grandy Creek down the highway.  . . .  Jackman Creek at Van Horn was also too high for its banks, so took off across the road east of bridge, flooding over the flat from the store to the mill.


USGS 139,000 cfs Concrete (38.99), 150,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 144,000 cfs Mt. Vernon (36.85)


More damage done upriver by streams and creeks then by river. 

See Historic Flood Flows; 2/10/51 MVDH; 2/12/51 MVDH; 2/15/51 Argus; 2/15/51 CT; 2/16/51 B.J.





                The Skagit River has again served notice that it has a will of its own and can not be controlled by predictions, weather charts, previous performances or power dams.  When conditions are right the Skagit will flood, and the county might just as well prepare its defenses.  In the lower valley dikes again held off a major disaster.  Their move will be better dikes and allowance for even higher water than has been experienced.  Communities such as Hamilton may also have to look into diking projects for protection.  The upper valley could well use an emergency road system out of the flood areas, something the county could do easily with a few connecting links in the Lyman-Hamilton area.  Also needed is a county budget for flood emergency use and a definite working plan for handling such emergencies.  The county engineer’s stepped into the breach and did an excellent job this past week end, but their work could have been greatly simplified if they had funds to work with and rules to follow.  Floods may not come often in future years, that is true.  But there is little reason why they can’t be included in our planning and be accepted as part of the weather hazard that must be faced.

County Needs To Plan For Floods


One has to wonder if the editor was referring to the dams when he said, “Floods may not come often in future years, that is true.”  However he did recognize that the Skagit cannot be controlled by “power dams” alone.

The irony here is that we did not have another “serious flood” until 1975.


This editorial still rings true in 2005.



over six inches of rain last week

In addition to the warm winds which melted snow, the flood last week end was speeded by a total of 6.46 inches of rainfall in a four-day period.  Friday, Feb. 9th was the big day for rain.  The 24-hour total for that date was 2.42 inches.




6.46 inches in 4 days caused 2/11/51 flood.  Unfortunately the article doesn’t say where the 6 inches was measured.  See Historical Rainfall & Its Impact on Floods



slow runoff hinders surveys to determine flood damage

Hampered by the slow runoff of flood waters which leave thousands of acres inundated in the lower Skagit valley, surveys are now in progress to determine the extent of damage in the disastrous Skagit river flood.  . . .  The county agent’s office is conducting a checkup on farm damage, particularly livestock and crops, and the county engineer and drainage districts are surveying damage to roads, bridges, dikes and ditches.  . . .  Incomplete results of the SCS survey plainly show that the cost of this flood will far exceed the 1949 disaster, when an estimated $306,965 damage was caused by the overflow of Skagit county streams. The extent of flooding the Samish area was about the same then as now, according to Austin Summers of the Soil Conservation service, and damage in the Nookachamps and upper Skagit areas is expected to be at least as great to farms. The lower Skagit flood this time was far more serious in area and damage done with greater cost to dikes, ditches, roads, farm buildings and stock. . . .  The rapidity of the water rise at Conway and on the island prevented the saving of much of the personal property and furniture in homes, and the loss will no doubt be heavy. In the Hamilton vicinity, there was sufficient warning- through a siren system- to permit most residents to save their mattresses and furniture that would be ruined by water, a Red Cross spokesman reports. . . .  The dike below Conway was ripped from top to bottom, with a 40-foot gap torn in the protecting wall. The emergency pumping equipment of diking district 17 is under water and the tide gate of district 36 was ripped out. Dike damage, both breaks and weak spots, is very extensive and a great many ditches on Fir Island and in other flooded areas were filled with silt and sand. It is impossible to estimate road damage as yet, but the Dollar road is still closed due to a washout east of Burlington and roads in the lower valley were seriously eroded. 

1951 Flood Did More Damage Then 1949



Cost to dikes, ditches, roads, farm buildings and livestock.





Dollar Road (Highway 20) damaged and closed to traffic.



Losses Low In Record Flood


Conway, Hiway 99 Still Underwater

Bailing out after a record high water, Skagit county was finding late this week that its losses were not as great as the first frantic press and radio reports indicated.  . . .  Hamilton residents were swamping out their homes and stores today in the first-flooded community but in the second, Conway, it was to be a matter of days before there could be hope of relief from overflow waters.  The flood-breeding combination of a Chinook wind and heavy, warm rains last Thursday night set the Skagit river off on its 1951 rampage.  By Sunday morning it had risen to what the county engineers office said was an all-time high of 28.2 feet in Mt. Vernon, as against the previous, November 1949, record of 26.05.

Worse At Conway In ’21—Conway residents declared the 1951 flood was two feet, ten inches below the 1921 inundation in their community, due probably to the fact that this time the Fisher’s slough dikes broke southward before the South Fork river dikes gave way.

“Close Call” In City—In Mt. Vernon Saturday night Main street was sandbagged when the water crept to with six inches of spilling over into the business district, 7000 sandbags were piled on the dikes and bottoms around the sewage disposal plant, and overflowing waters were dammed off with sacks o the West Side.

15,000 Acres Covered—A total of 10,000 acres south of Mt. Vernon and 500 in the Nookachamps and upriver were inundated, Harold Strombom flood-fighting coordinator for the county estimated.  Fir Island between the South Fork and Dry Slough, however, escaped serous flooding, but waters from the Conway breaks flowed eastward to the foothills and northward to within two miles of Mt. Vernon.

Water Systems Hit—The PUD resorted to pumping and filtering river water when flood waters barred its 14-inch high pressure “mountain water” main on the Dollar road between Sedro Woolley and Burlington Sunday.  The line burst, speeding the washout of one road lane for a distance of 1000 feet..

Major Breaks Listed—Major dike breaks were, in approximate order of happening:  Fisher’s slough, flooding Milltown, Friday night; North Fork, above bridge, pouring into area between Brown’s and Dry slough; others on Brown’s slough in Beesner district, sea dike near Von Moos farm and Brown’s slough near Charles E Olson lands; two at and below Conway Sunday morning.  One sea dike at least was dynamited to relieve part of the island area.  Reports of other flooding ranged from small isolated incidents to the fantastic, such as the inundation of part of Burlington and the Riverside Bend area.  Actually there was only one break in the Burlington bend, that quickly plugged, and none of consequence between Mt. Vernon and BurlingtonAvon was bothered only by seepage.

Fir Island Proper EscapesFir Island between the South Fork and Dry slough escaped any serous flooding and access to the area remained open via the river road from Mt. Vernon.

February 11, 1951 Flood Event



Record Flood??  USGS published figures for this flood is 139,000 cfs at Concrete and 144,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon 36.85 feet.






County engineers say “all time high”.  28.2 feet in downtown Mt. Vernon.


Conway residents were right.




7,000 sandbags.  How does that compare to what was used in 1990 or 1995?



500 acres in Nookachamps is wrong.  There are 8,000 acres in Nookachamps and Sterling and in talking with residents who were there in this flood every acre was covered.





Most levee breaks on Fir Island and Conway.



Burlington levee break “plugged”.



Strombom Gives Flood Report, Day-By-Day


Flood Coordinator Harold Strombom of the County Engineer’s office yesterday made public the entire operations of engineer units during last weekends flood.  In daily reports, here is what happened:

Friday—8 a.m. Skagit at 19 feet, rose to 20 feet by 12 a.m.  Hamilton flooded by evening.

Saturday—Steady rise all day with 38.35 feet reported at Concrete and 25.1 in Mt. Vernon.  Engineer H.O. Walberg appointed coordinators at 12 a.m.  . . .first dike break at Fir island west of the bridge on the North Fork, covering about 1000 acres …the Samish flooded …roads were closed at Conway, Clear Lake and up river…volunteers were called in the evening to strengthen dikes.

Sunday—Continued dike breaks near Conway flooded Fir Island and later Conway about 6:30 a.m. …volunteers worked throughout the night evacuating families and placing sandbags on weakened dikes.  Flood crest was 28.2 feet.

Tuesday—River down to 18 feet.

Wednesday—River at 15 feet, all schools open except Conway.






Would be approx. 28 feet at current gage.


Approx. 33 feet at current gage.






36.85 feet at current gage.



Riverside Flood of 1921 Was Worse: Argus


As flood waters receded through-out the county this week many long-time county residents began comparing the incident with the one taking place in December of 1921.  Old issues of the Argus give quite a few details about the matter and make it easier for those who did not witness both floods to compare the two.  The flood began late Monday night, Dec. 12 when the dikes began breaking after three days of heavy rains and warm winds.  The river soon reached a level of twenty-four feet in Mt. Vernon and both Burlington and Conway were completely flooded as dikes broke here.  Early Tuesday morning the dikes burst near Riverside and the entire area was covered with several feet of water.  One home in the area split in half by the water and the family hung on the roof as the better share of their dwelling was swept away.  Over 2000 feet of railroad tracks were washed away near Riverside and no autos or trains reached Mt. Vernon from the south for several days.  Several stores along the river front in Mt. Vernon had portions disappear when the raging waters tore away their pilings.  Two days after the record water level the county had several days in which the temperature did not exceed twenty degrees.  This froze all of the standing water to a depth of several inches and did much damage to livestock in the valley.


1921 Flood Event

See 12/15 and 12/22/21 articles.





Approx. 32 feet at current gage.



Wylie Recalls Sea Flood


What will the Skagit flood waters do to the farms?  Not as much as many fear, says one pioneer of the flats beyond Fir Island.  Recalling the 1921 flood that was followed by a freeze, pioneer John Wylie, PUD commissioner, said his lands were isolated, under sea water for 51 days.  First year afterwards he got no crop, second year, 10 bushels to the acre.  Then the lands began coming back.  Brief immersion in sea water will not be seriously harmful, Wylie declared.  Lands flooded and silted, rather than covered with sand or debris, will benefit.  Wylie cited a number of farmers who, he said, were “made” by silt from floods—the resulting bumper crops.




Brief immersion in sea water not harmful.  Lands flooded and silted will benefit resulting in bumper crops.



skagit flood causes big damage – hamilton, conway areas hard hit; roads washed out

Reaching a near record crest of 28.2 feet at Mt. Vernon at 5 a.m. Sunday, the Skagit river’s worst flood in several years, caused many thousands of dollars damage to highways and property, and left many families temporarily homeless.  The Hamilton area was the worst hit, east of Sedro-Woolley and the Fir-Conway district south of Mt. Vernon.  . . . Mt. Vernon and Burlington were spared from a bad flood.  The county engineer reports that the Burlington road will be ready for use Saturday night.  All roads upriver are passable and most of the roads in the Nookachamps area are again in use.  . . .  By Saturday all traffic to the upper Skagit valley was cut off at Lyman where the road was under water.  Another stretch of road above Marblemount was flooded and the road to Newhalem closed.  . . .  Traffic on the Clear Lake road was closed at 11 a.m. Saturday as a log jam threatened destruction of the bridge.  Later the road was covered with water.  . . .  The river broke through the railroad embankment east of Burlington, which acts as a dike, and tore through the Dollar road, cutting the PUD 14 inch main serving Burlington.  Hamilton was flooded for the second straight year, but fortunately many of the residents had more warning about the coming high water.  About midnight Friday night the water began to come over the top of the dike and continued to rise until approximately 2,000 acres in the Birdsview-Hamilton area were covered with water.  . . .  It has been reported that many of the people in Hamilton were going to sell out and move, but nearly all of the for sale signs seen on homes now had been up before the flood.  The oldtimers who had been going through floods for years take it in stride. 


USGS 139,000 cfs Concrete (38.99), 150,000 cfs Sedro-Woolley, 144,000 cfs Mt. Vernon (36.85)

The 28.2 ft. reading was at the Moose Hall gage in downtown Mt. Vernon.  There is a 8 ft. drop in elevation from the current gage to the Moose Hall gage.


Marblemount road flooded. 


Log jam threatened Highway 9 bridge.



Railroad embankment along Highway 20 (Old Dollar Road) acts as a dike.



Water Recedes In Skagit River Flood

            Waters of the Skagit River are slowly returning to normal following one of the most critical floods in years.  Although some damage was reported in the upper reaches of the river, it was the Conway and Stanwood areas that suffered the greatest.  Early last Saturday morning it was apparent that the river would be nearing the top of the dikes by nightfall and emergency crews began functioning.  . . .              In this area the only breakthrough of any consequence was near the former Doctor Cleveland home where the water spread over the Dollar road between Burlington and Sedro-Woolley for quite some distance doing considerable damage.  The Sedro-Woolley–Clear Lake road was also covered with water resulting in some damage.



Conway and Stanwood hardest hit.  Saturday was February 10th.  River nearing top of dikes by nightfall.  Breakthrough near Dr. Cleveland home, water over Highway 20. 

USGS reports flood level was 36.85 at new gage.



planning needed to avert floods

Fixed planning for future control of the Skagit river is a “must” in order to save the resources of the valley, Herman Hansen, Mount Vernon superintendent of public works, told the Kiwanis club at the weekly luncheon meeting yesterday noon at the President hotel Togi room.

Planning For Floods A Must



state pledges aid for flood repairs

The board of county commissioners yesterday reached an agreement with Lars Langloe of the state department of conservation and development for state aid in flood reparations, Chairman A. B. Wiseman reported this morning. . . .  Although work right now is concentrating on dike repair to take care of the emergency, river dredging work was mentioned in the discussion and may be an eventuality, Wiseman stated.

River Dredging A Possibility



Flood Damage To Farms Over Half Million

            Agricultural damage from the Skagit County floods will total “at least half a million dollars” a Soil Conservation Service official said today.  Based on a nearly completed SCS survey, which shows 28,776 acres of Skagit County land flooded.  Austin Summers of the local soil conservative office placed the estimate on flood damage which does not include damage to houses, furnishings or personal property, or to roads and bridges.  It does include damage to land and crops, dikes, ditches, farm buildings and equipment and livestock.  Of the total acreage inundated, 8,320 acres were flooded by the Samish River in the northwestern corner of the county and the rest by the Skagit River.  Approximately 117 acres of land were “destroyed” for agricultural purposes by erosion, the report shows, with 50 acres of that land on Fir Island and most of the rest around Lyman.  . . .  Included in the loss was an area of mature bearing filbert trees on the Loop place in the Nookachamps area.  . . .  One of the heaviest strawberry field losses was on the Noble Lee farm on Fir Island, washed over by the river when it broke a private dike.  About 75 acres of bulbs were flooded, with almost no change of any salvage on most of them.  . . .  Diking districts have a monumental task of repairing flood damage.  A total of 4,300 feet of dikes were washed out (200 feet on the Samish River), and the tide gate of District 13 was ruined.  The district’s tide box installed in 1937 at a cost of $7,000, was wrecked by the flood and salt water had been coming in on the land at each high tide.

28,776 Acres of Farmland Flooded


$500,000 damage figure includes damage to land and crops, dikes, ditches, farm buildings, equipment, and livestock.  Does not include houses, furnishings or personal property.


117 acres destroyed by erosion around Lyman and Fir Island.



Private dike failed on Fir Island.


4,300 feet of dikes were washed out (200 on the Samish River). 



Engineer Pessimistic On Flood Control Work

            The US army engineers are nearing completion of a comprehensive study of Skagit River flood conditions, but a representative of the Seattle district office today held out little hope for any action by the army engineers in the foreseeable future to remedy the situation.  Byron Clark, speaking before the members and guests of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club this noon at the President Hotel, said that the flood control plan considered most feasible by the engineers – raising of the dikes along the entire lower river – could probably not be justified economically to earn Congressional approval for the project.  He said the long-proposed Avon Bypass plan, cutting a channel for emergency overflow from the Skagit River to Padilla Bay would be “slightly more expensive” and indicated it would not have compensating features making it a first choice plan.  . . .  “Not a penny has been appropriated for the Avon By-Pass to date,” Clarke said in answer to a question.  Clarke pointed out that under the existing law flood control projects must be “economically justified” by showing that damage which would be prevented over a period of years would exceed the cost of the work, spread out of the same period – say 50 years.  He said that even the least expensive way of meeting the flood situation on the Skagit could not be justified on that basis.  . . .  This year’s flood, he pointed out, was exceeded in volume and damage by several in the past and he was inclined to doubt that “floods are getting worse.”  He also disputed a remark that “the Skagit is silting up,” quoting studies made of the river bed near its mouth in 1930 and 1950, showing comparatively little change.  He discounted the importance of closed slough outlets as a flood cause, and said their effect would be very local and not too great since the sloughs carry off little water in comparison to the main stream.  He said Swinomish Slough jetty work had absolutely no effect on the Skagit.  Clarke also minimized the effect of cutting over timber as a cause of floods.  “The main cause of floods in this area,” he said, “is the appearance of storms concentrating in the area of the watershed.”  Clarke did not think that dredging the Skagit would have any great effect on preventing floods, at least in the area above the North Fork bridge.  He dismissed as far too expensive to consider the diversion of the entire river.  The engineer pointed out that Ross Dam has had a helpful effect in reducing flood levels and estimated that the most recent flood would have been one to two feet higher if the dam’s reservoir had not operated as a check.  “That margin,” he pointed out “could have been very serious, as you all realize.”

Corps Flood Study Near Completion


No hope for flood control project in foreseeable future.  Raising all levees not economically feasible.



No money appropriated for Avon By-Pass.





Corps does not believe floods are getting worse or that river is “silting up”.  No change in mouth of river since 1930.





Swinomish Slough jetty work has no impact on floods.





Corps doesn’t believe cutting timber contributes to flooding.


Dredging would not work.


Ross dam helpful in 1951 flood.  River would have been 1 to 2 feet higher without it.



Editorial Comments

The severe damage caused by the flood last weekend again calls attention to the need for doing something about the Skagit river…the run-off of the Skagit watershed will continue to be a problem to contend with.—Puget Sound Mail

It was an experience we have no desire to repeat…It is a problem that the lower valley must prepare to meet.  We hope they can find a solution and be spared future disasters.—Concrete Herald

“…lessons that may be learned about constructing homes well above flood water levels, building and maintaining stronger dikes, and buildings that provide better protection from endangered livestock.  If these lessons are heeded the people who live in lowland areas will be better prepared for the next lood that comes along.  And another flood will come make no mistake about it.”—Twin City News




Editor comments on 1951 flood event.



Engineers Work Overtime Fixing Dikes and Roads


. . .  Army Engineers A Gullidge and an assistant, with Lars Langloe of the state department of conservation and development, made surveys on Monday and Tuesday, and met with the county commissioners and diking district members in the court house.  Langloe assured a perturbed group that the state would pay for all saltwater dike breaks, as well as temporary dikes.  Diking districts would have to take care of all easements and right-of-way, and might be asked to pay for 25% of the expenses.  US Soil Conservation Dept. Officials are completing their extensive survey of flood damage this week.  They claim that about 28,000 acres of county land were flooded, including 8,320 acres around the Samish river.  About 4300 linear feet of dikes were washed out in the flood, 200 feet along the Samish.





Compare this article to 2/15/21.  28,000 acres underwater.



Speaker Doubts Flood Money To Be Available

            Doubt that federal aid would be forthcoming for flood control in the Skagit valley was expressed by Byron Clarke, of the Seattle office of the United States army engineer corp.  . . .  The question of the often discussed Avon bypass was put and Mr. Clarke contended that at present construction costs it would amount to about nine million dollars.  The other alternative, repair, and improvement of the present dike and jetty system would cost in the neighborhood of five million dollars.  Although the army engineer survey of the situation is not quite complete at his time Mr. Clarke stated that it was his belief that there would be no recommendation to the federal government for aid in any of these projects suggested.        The speaker left the impression that if anything was done to improve the situation in the county it would be up to the home folks.  He did say he believed the most economical plan was to repair, widen and raise the existing dikes, both the bypass and dredging at the mouth of the river being impractical from the financial viewpoint.

No Federal Money For Flood Control


Avon By-Pass cost 9 million. 

Levee improvements 5 million.





Flood Control up to “local folks.”



By-Pass and dredging impractical from financial viewpoint.



Commissioners Defend Flood Coordination

Blackstone Says No Coordination During Flood

“There was no coordination to speak of, at the county level.  This was through no fault of the hastily appointed coordinator (Engineer Harold Strombom) but due to the failure of one non-technical individual being given the authority and responsibility, a reasonable length of time before a coordinating set-up was needed.  (Signed Fred Blackstone Jr.)  . . .  No One Responsible—Consensus of opinion around the court house was that no one individual or office was entirely responsible for flood control or coordination, but that the dike districts are supposed to take care of all dikes, including strengthening during high waters.



No coordination during flood event alleged.




New Dike Levy Bill Awaits Signature

The bill empowering diking districts to levy assessments on the basis of regular property valuations awaits signature of the governor at Olympia.  The measure … passed the senate this week by a 37-2 vote.  . . .  diking districts at present were meeting expenses under an 1895 law assessing property on an acreage instead of a valuation basis.  The result has been that valuable buildings, occupying small land areas, had been paying much less than farms embracing many acres.



Changed assessment from acreage to buildings for Dike Districts.



Dike Vote Close In District Twelve

            In the closes dike district election yet reported from Tuesday’s elections in the county, Bob Shroeder was elected in district 12 with only 31 out of the 84 votes cast.  Shroeder won by only three votes over Harold McMoran (28), who was followed closely by Bill Jewett with 25.

Only 84 Votes Cast In Dike Election



hanson creek’s flood problems to be discussed

The problem of Hanson creek in its flooding of farmland is being studied by state and county officials, at the request of farmers owning land along the creek.  . . .  It was reported that at present Hanson creek has deposited so much dirt and gravel from the foot of the hill and on to its mouth at the river, that it is now too shallow to hold its water, after a heavy rain, and adjoining farmland is threatened.  . . .  The Soil Conservation men have conducted a survey since the meeting, and recommend a dredging of the creek bed, as in some cases the gravel is higher than the adjoining fields.  . . .  The farmers felt that the state should pay a large part of the cost and perhaps county help could be obtained.

Hanson Creek Flooding


SCS recommended dredging the creek.



County Dikes Completed, 62,000 Spent by State and County


State Provides $52,000; Diking Districts Work—Milltown Dike Fixed by U.S. Engineers

Skagit river dike repairs by the county engineer’s office have cost $62,000, with the state furnishing $52,000, according to the latest figures, released by Assistant Engineer Harold O. Strombom, who was in charge of much of the dike work.  U.S. Army Engineers are rebuilding river dikes below Conway for District No. 3 with 100 per cent federal funds.  News was received yesterday from an army engineer that work is now completed on the dike at Milltown, , south of Conway near the county line.  Sea-Water Dikes Finished—Salt-water dikes were finished in March, according to Strombom, with the state furnishing all funds.  Local diking districts are still working on these river dikes:  No. 1 along Harmony school district from the county farm on down; No 13, extending the county dike at George Moore place to connect with Brown slough; and No. 15, from Brown slough west.



Dike Work




Mt. Baker Once Had A Spanish Name

Mount Baker was known by the Indians as “Koma Kulshan” or “Steep Mountain”.  In 1790 a Spanish explorer named Manuel Quimper put it on his maps as La Montana del Carmelo – “The Great White Watcher”.  Then came Lt. Joseph Baker in 1892 and his report gave it his own name.  The first ascent of the mountain by a white man was made in 1886 by E. T. Coleman.


Note:  La Montana del Camelo does not translate to "The Great White Watcher".  What Mr. Quimper actually put on his map was La Gran Montana del Carmelo.  It translates to The Grand Mountain of Carmel which was named after "Our Lady of the Carmelite Order".  (Source“Mt. Baker, A Chronicle of its Historic Eruptions and First Ascent” by Harry M. Majors, 1978,)

Mt. Baker

According to the book titled Mt. Baker, A Chronicle of its Historic Eruptions and First Ascent” by Harry M. Majors, 1978, what is reported in this article may not be correct.  Mr. Majors writes:

Kulshan Koma was the name applied by the Lummi Indians to Mt. Baker.  The Lummi word kulshan can variously mean damaged, broken, scar, or wound.  Thus the Lummi tribe knew Mount Baker as the “damaged/broken/wounded/scarred mountain,” probably in reference to an eruption witnessed many years ago by the Indians. . . . The Nooksack Indians, who lived much closer to Mt. Baker and for a longer period of time than the Lummis, referred to this peak as Quck-sman-ik which signifies “white rock.”  To the south, the Koma Indians on the lower Skagit River knew of Mt. Baker as Tukullum, meaning “white stone,” likely in reference to its snow-clad slopes.”  Similarly, the more distant Clallam Indians called the peak Puk’h’kowitz, a term meaning “white mountain”.




Water Power From Baker Was Much Too Powerful

One of the early day “busts” in Concrete was an attempt to use the Baker River as power for the Washington Cement plant.  A wooden flume was built through the Baker canyon and for miles up the river where an earth dam was installed to divert the water into the flume.            The flume itself was a marvelous piece of carpentry, wide enough for two horses to run abreast and deep enough to hold a sizeable river.  The only trouble was that the earth dam would not hold against flood waters and the flume had to be abandoned.  It stood for many years until it was gradually torn town by folks who needed some of its fine lumber.

First “Dam” on Baker River


One now has to wonder if the oil marks found by Stewart at the Washington Cement plant were from the 1921 flood or oil marks left from a flood when the “earth dam” broke during a flood.




Barron Was Upper-Skagit Ghost Town

An interesting tale is told in the Forest Service records of the upper Skagit about the town of Barron.  During the gold excitement of the early ‘90s there appeared almost overnight a cluster of log cabins that became known as Barron.  Alex Barron had gone into the Slate Creek country in 1895 and upon his Black Jack claim the town was built.  This was three miles from the Cascade summit and forty-five miles from the nearest supply station – but at one time it boasted a population larger than Concrete at this present time.  It had a post office, hotels, restaurants, saloons and a dance hall.  There were several mills cutting timber for flumes and buildings, two large mines were operating in the vicinity.

Town of Barron


Skagit County’s true ghost town.




Birdsview Hatchery Started In 1900

About the year 1900 a small hatchery was established on Grandy Creek at Birdsview as an auxiliary to the Baker Lake hatchery.  Salmon eggs for the hatchery were obtained from both Grandy Creek and Phinney Creek.  In 1911 extensive improvements and construction of buildings were made, including a new hatchery building, barn, and several residences, and the old hatchery building was made into a workshop.  The office of the Baker Lake hatchery superintendent was then moved to the Birdsview hatchery since the field operations became enlarged and Birdsview was more accessible for mail and transportation, as well as being more centrally located since the hatcheries on Hood’s Canal were also added to the field.  After 1911 from time to time further improvements and construction of buildings were carried out as became necessary.  However, by 1947 the run of salmon into Grandy Creek had declined greatly and the water of the creek during winter and early spring was muddy for such long periods that fish cultural work could not be carried out with maximum efficiency.  Logging off of the creek watershed caused the changed condition in the creek.  The long periods of muddy water in the creek during the winter months especially, appeared to be a factor in the decline in the numbers of salmon entering.  The creek and at times fingerling fish in the ponds could not be properly fed for several weeks at a time.

Fish Issue


Birdsview Hatchery.  By 1947 the run of salmon into Grandy Creek had declined greatly and the water of the creek during winter and early spring was muddy for such long periods that fish cultural work could not be carried out with maximum efficiency.  Logging off of the creek watershed caused the changed condition in the creek.  . . .  Closed in July 1947.




City Light Projects Harness Powerful Skagit River After Long, Hard Struggle

It was over 70 years ago that the first white man battled his way into the fearful Skagit river canyons above Marblemount.  They were hunting for gold then, but overlooked a wealth far greater than any metal in the many power sites along the upper reaches of the river.  But the country became known and in 1907 engineers made a trip through the same rugged canyons, this time with transit, and level as they mapped out eleven miles of the deepest gorges and made plans for the building of a hydro-electric plant larger at that time than any in the world.  By 1919 the project was ready to go and workmen swarmed into the upper country to clear the site for Newhalem and the Gorge Dam, first step in the plan.  The Gorge plant, with a capacity of 60,000 kilowatts, was completed in 1924 and the generators were started with great ceremony – President Calvin Coolidge pushing a button in, the White House to start them turning.  From then on the project has been in continuous construction.  Diablo Dam, 7 and a half miles up from the gorge Plant was completed in 1930.  It was built in Diablo Canyon, a gorge of solid granite with vertical walls rising 160 feet from the river bed, yet were less than 100 feet apart.  The third step in the plan was Ross Dam, built near Ruby Creek and originally called Ruby Dam.  At the death of J. D. Ross, whose dream made the dams possible, his name was given to the latest and largest of them all.  Ross Dam was started in 1937, the first step completed in 1940.  The second step began almost immediately and the dam is now 545 feet high and has formed a lake 24 miles long.

Gorge, Diablo & Ross Dams


Gorge completed in 1924.  Diablo completed in 1930.  Ross still under construction.




The Story of the Baker Lake Fish Hatchery is Historic Lore

Artificial propagation of sockeye salmon began in 1896 when in that year the State of Washington originally established the hatchery at Baker Lake where existed the only natural spawning grounds of sockeye salmon in United States waters on Puget Sound. By that time there were already pack horse trails on both the east and west sides of the Baker River and a number of pioneers had located homesteads on both sides of the Baker River and on the shore of Baker Lake. Mrs. Richard Thompson (Emma Ruth) I believe is the only one of such pioneers now remaining in this locality. At that time and for several years after there was considerable prospecting for gold several miles up Noisy Creek. A cylinder containing about 200 pounds of mercury was left by one of the miners at his claim when he was starved out and in 1916 he returned and packed the mercury out since by that time such metal had greatly increased in value.  . . .  Then in 1924 a total of 14,558 sockeye salmon were caught and from these a total of 22,000,000 eggs were obtained. However in 1924 the construction of the Baker River Dam at Concrete begun and in 1925 only 40 sockeyes got through to Baker Lake and only 51,490 eggs taken therefrom. However, there were thousands of sockeyes in the Baker River canyon that were unable to get beyond the dam site. In 1926 a total of 2,823 sockeyes arrived at Baker Lake and 3,921,000 eggs obtained therefrom. From then on the annual runs gradually decreased until by 1933 only 493 sockeyes got to Baker Lake and only 356,000 eggs were obtained. This did not warrant operation further on a year around basis for sockeyes and the hatchery was eventually discontinued entirely.

Fish Issue


History of the Baker Lake Fish Hatchery.



Lower Baker Dam had a tremendous impact on the Sockeye runs on the Baker River.  We went from 14,558 sockeye caught to just 493 in just 9 years.


Hatchery was opened in 1896 and closed in 1934.




A History of the Upper Skagit Valley And It’s Pioneer People

History, as we know it from books, begins with the coming of the first settler to the wilderness.  The upper Skagit valley was still a wilderness 100 years ago.  At that time it was known there was a large river tumbling into Puget Sound from a wide, flat delta within sight of a beautiful snow-capped peak, but this information was relegated to the logs and maps of the explorers who were busy charting the shores within reach of their boats.  So the upper reaches of the Skagit had to wait.  In some ways they are still waiting, for after a hundred years there are many sources of wealth that lie untouched, awaiting the proper and convenient time to be turned into jobs, into materials, into dollars.  . . .  The first recorded visit to the upper Skagit was a trip made by Major Van Bokkelen and party in July of 1858.  According to his report the party started up the river only to find three huge log jams in the first twelve miles of progress.  After working their way past these obstructions they found easy going and followed the river through many miles of forest-lined banks.  . . .  In 1883 a bill was passed in the legislative assembly of the territory setting up the county of Skagit.  Previously all the Skagit valley country had been part of Whatcom County

The History Of The Upper Skagit


This is a very lengthy 14 page article that should be required reading for every citizen of Skagit Valley.


First and only mention of “three” log jams.


Skagit County formed in 1883.




Skagit Valley Grew Up With Logging Industry

Logging, as one of our old-timers put it, is “gittin a tree to water.”  Over the centuries this primary objective has remained unchanged – only the method has been improved.  As logging has been, and still is, one of the upper Skagit’s biggest industries, the history of the valley has been closely tied in with the cutting of the enormous stand of fir and cedar that was found by the first explorers up the river.  . . .  At this area cedar was most plentiful, so early homes were built of the easily worked and nearly split wood.  A cedar home could be built with half the labor of a log cabin.  … A like manner, cedar was most in demand and took most of the attention of the first loggers.

The History of Logging in Skagit County


Cedar was most in demand.  First they floated the logs.  Then loaded them onto the railroad cars.  Then by logging trucks.




The First Days of Marblemount

Marblemount is a small town a half-mile upriver from the mouth of the Cascade River.  A couple of hotels, two stores and three beer parlors scattered over a mile of state highway comprises Marblemount today but in 1890 fifteen hundred miners made it, in the words of several astute boosters – “The Coming Leadville of the Pacific”.  For in the Cascade valley near Gilberts’ cabin hundreds of prospectors hacked at outcroppings of Galena ore and silver and lead. . . .Coming back to Sedro-Woolley Carl, Mother and I took the “Indiana,” a stern-wheeler, up-river but it only went to Birdsview leaving us on the river bank.  Next week the “Henry Brady”, another boat, picked us up and went as far as Rocky Riffle and again we were put ashore just two miles from what later on was Marblemount.

The History of Marblemount


This article was authored by Dick Buller, father of Tootsie Clark who still lives in Marblemount and runs Clarks Eatery home of the best French fries in Skagit Valley.




Fish Hatchery Is Attraction At Marblemount

The Skagit River hatchery was built by the State Department of Fisheries in 1946 and 1947 at a total cost of $293,830.  The purpose of the hatchery is to offset somewhat the inroad of the upper Skagit dams on the salmon run in the Skagit River.  . . . Operations began at the hatchery in 1948 when 586,900 Chinook fingerlings and 220,900 silver fingerlings were planted.  The plantings have increased year by year until the 1950 planting totaled 1,344,000 fingerlings and 400,000 yearlings.  The returns so far have been gratifying in that a run of more than 3,000 silver salmon put in their appearance in Clark Creek as a result of the 1948-49 plant from the 1947 brood fish.  This was the first time more than 400 silvers had appeared in the creek.

Marblemount Fish Hatchery



3,000 silvers returned to Clark Creek out of 220,000 fingerlings planted? 




Rockport Began It’s Career As Stopping Place for Tourists

The City Light throngs that made Rockport into quite a busy little community a few years ago was not the first time the town was a resort for tourists.  In fact that is why it became a town.  In 1892 Al Von Presentin opened a hotel and general store there for the travelers up and down the river.  With the coming of the Seattle & Northern Railway he built the big hotel that still stands as the principle landmark of the town.  This modern stopping place was built in May 1901 at the enormous cost of $4,500.  Built on a solid foundation of rock, the building had 21 rooms, hot and cold water, a dining room, and a bar, all offering real comfort to the miners and tourists who visited the upper valley.

History of Rockport


Built in 1901.




Ruby Creek Named After Early Find

The stream on the upper Skagit now known as Ruby Creek got its name from two of the early prospectors in that area, Sutter and Rowley, who visited there in 1872.  The two men were washing the gravel when Sutter recovered a nice ruby in his pan.  The creek received it’s name then and there.

History of Ruby Creek


Found a ruby so named it Ruby Creek.




Sauk and Sauk City Disappear Over Years

Ghost towns are frequent in the desert mining country, but in the Skagit valley only one thriving community vanished completely from the map over the past fifty years.  This was Sauk – a bustling little community at the junction of the Sauk and Skagit rivers.  In 1884, a post office was established there and a town grew up around it – today you would be hard pressed to show a person where the town had been.  It was fire, the greatest enemy of the pioneers that caused Sauk most of it’s trouble.  After the town had grown to a sizeable place for the first time, a fire in January of 1889 burned down all but the store of George Perrault.  . . .            Another similar town of a similar name “Sauk City” was started on the south bank of the Skagit and was reached by a ferry from old Sauk.  This was in 1890 when Thomas Moody of Hamilton and J. W. Sutherland of Fairhaven bought 260 acres and began to build a city from the ground up.

History of Sauk & Sauk City


In 1891 a promotion was under way to form a new county from the portion of Whatcom, Skagit and Snohomish lying east of the Baker River.  Sauk City was to be the county seat.

            There are no more Sauk cities in the upper valley.





The History of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe

Long, long ago, before there were any white people in the country, Pepstoats was the chief of the Sauk tribe.  The land of the tribe is the territory from the junction of the Sauk and Skagit, up the valley on the West side, east  up to the Summit at the head of the Sauk and hence along Glacier Peak ridge to the Summit at the head of the Suiattle River; the Suiattle River on both East and West sides.  The Indians lived on the Sauk on both sides of the Sauk River, and on Sauk Prairie, and some people had big houses at Buck Creek and Tenas Creek on the Suiattle.

History of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe


This article was authored by Leo Braun, a tribal member of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe.




Superior Cement Plant Is Bulwark of Town

Like most small communities, Concrete’s hopes and plans, its past and future, has been tied up with the fortunes of the town’s largest industry – the making of cement by the plant of Superior Portland Cement, Inc.  Though not the first to discover and make use of the unlimited supply of limestone in this area, the Superior Company became firmly established here early in its formation and is now as permanent as the mountains which hold its raw material.  It was John C. Eden who first investigated the possibilities of establishing a plant here.  The Washington Portland Cement company had already begun operations and Mr. Eden visited the district to further probe the resources he had heard about.  His findings were many and his decisions were shrewd.  He found plenty of un-exploited limestone and clay, a good power sight at Bear Creek, plenty of space for the large plant - - and he wasted little time buying up all these properties for his company

History of Cement Plants in Concrete



the baker river fishway

The ride of the salmon starts from the trap in groups of a few to fifty.  From the trap they are hosted to a water-filled tank care on a narrow gauge track, hauled some 400 feet to aerated holding pools where they are alive and jumping.  From there they are lowered into a water-filled “bucket” which is picked up by an aerial cable for another ride of 900 feet through the air to the dam to be held in a slated and aerated scow.  Whereupon, at the end of the day, they are turned free to nose their way under their own power upstream again.  If, however, gates are kept open when the last haul to the dam is made, the above handling is modified in that the slatted scow is towed by motorboat a mile up the lake so they will not drift down and spill over the dam.  . . .  There are two traps at Baker – the river trap and the tailrace trap.  The river trap makes use of the water spilled over the dam when the gates are open.  It is a wooden structure secured to cement and steel piers which is salvaged in the fall of the year if the fishing season ends before floods wash it away.  The lumber of the structure would build several houses.  It is mostly of 2X6 fir in lengths from 14 to 22 feet.  The barrier to the fish is made of these 2X6 boards with spaces through which water flows.  These rackbars are slanted towards the middle of the stream and as water flows through the cracks small streams entice the fish along towards the middle of the stream where a wider slot and heavier stream attracts the salmon to enter.  This is the trap.  The tailrace trap is necessary at times when gates at the dam are closed.  Here they are noticed to enter the trap by an artificial stream of water from a flume.

Fish Issue/Baker Dam


Fish ladder was still operating in 1951.  This article is the best located at describing how the facility worked.


“There are three distinct runs of salmon that reach the Baker River.  The Sockeye come first attaining a peak in July.  They have a life cycle of four years.  Then come the Silversides to reach a peak in September.  Their life cycle is three years.  The Humpy salmon makes their appearance late in fall and have a two year cycle.  Last year the total run for sockeye salmon was 2,416 and for Silversides 11,209.  At their peak the Silvers are a wonderful sight – 2,000 a day!”




Samish Indians sue for $41,500,000; to meet at LaConner

The Samish Indian tribe of Washington as filed suit against the U.S. Government for the sum of $41,500,000 on the basis of breach of the Point Elliott Treaty of 1855.  The Samish originally owned land in Whatcom, San Juan and Skagit counties for which they received no consideration when it was taken over by white settlers.  Other Western Washington Indian tribes are suing for a total of $700,000,000.  They are being represented in the lawsuit by Warren J. Gilbert and Harwood Bannister of Mt. Vernon and Frederick Post and Malcolm McLeod of Seattle.

Tribes Lawsuit


Should contact Gilberts son and find out what happened to this litigation.



baker river dam to be scene of important fish studies again next year

Arrangements for rearing 200,000 salmonoid “guinea pigs” have been made by the Dept. of Fisheries and the International Pacific Salmon Commission.  Fifty thousand Skagit river salmon and 150,000 Cultus Lake, B.C. sockeyes will be reared at the state hatchery at Marblemount and the fish will be used next spring in testing the mortality of small down-stream migrants resulting from passage over high dams and through power turbines.  Similar tests were conducted in 1950 and 1951 at the Baker River dam of Puget Sound Power & Light Co. here in Concrete.  The 1952 tests will also be held here.

Lower Baker/Fish Issue


Yet another study trying to save the salmon from the effects of the dam.



Diking District Expansion Sought for Southeast Area

            Eighteen businessmen, farmers and representatives of the city of Burlington and the dike commission visited the area south east of Burlington Friday afternoon to inspect the site of the proposed new dike which would add about 1000 acres of farm and residential land to that now protected from flood waters by the existing dike.  . . .  Object of the get-together was to get some of the preliminary work done so dike work could get underway this summer if the annexation of the new acreage is approved by the commission.  Dike work will be at the discretion of the diking commission.  . . .  Possibility of development of residential area within the acreage was discussed and according to the diking commission the proposed new dike could be relied upon to give good protection to the area east of Burlington.

Dike 12 New Dike


1,000 acres to receive flood protection.






“Possibility” of new development in acreage to be protected by new dike.



city light wins case over log raft losses

A group of loggers of the upper valley, suing City Light for loss of log rafts for the Skagit River during the flash flood of October 24th, 1945, lost their case in the District Court in Seattle last week, Judge Bowen ruling that there was no negligence on the part of City Light that should cause an undue rise in the Skagit above what could normally be charged to the heavy rainfall over the entire Cascade watershed.  . . .  Between 7:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. on October 25th, 1945, the log rafts broke up in the high water and went down river.  The loggers maintained that the rise in the Skagit was due to water let over the Diablo Dam during that period, and sought to collect damages for loss of their logs from City Light.  The judge, however, concluded that as the loggers were holding their booms for high water, they were negligent themselves in not sending them after the heavy rains that preceded the flash flood.  He also pointed out that other streams in the valley, such as the Cascade and Sauk, were uncontrolled and had about as much to do with a rise in the river as the upper Skagit.  . . . 

Seattle City Light Lawsuit


Loggers lose case against SCL. 


The lumbermen not only lost the case but were charged with payment of court costs of the defendant, amounting to $307.  Lawyers evidently didn’t charge very much back then.




figures released on fish handled at baker dam

A total of 17,642 salmon were trapped this season and hauled above the Baker River dam here, says a report from the state department of fisheries.  Included in the total were 13,529 silver salmon, the third highest number handled on his particular run since 1927.  The parent year 1948 yielded 9,778 fish.  Other fish included 3,705 sockeye, 26 Chinook and 272 pink salmon, and 112 steelhead trout.  The trap has been operated at the power house, below the high dam, since 1926.  The fish are then carried by tram car and cable in tanks of water and released above the dam in Lake Shannon.

Lower Baker/Fish Issue


26 King Salmon, 272 humpies and 112 steelhead.  Doesn’t exactly sound like the “good ole days”.



Allocate $60,000 For Dike Repairs

            WASHINGTON, March 16 – (U.P.): The Corps of Army Engineers has allocated $60,000 to repair four breaks in dikes along the Skagit River in Washington caused by recent floods, Rep. Henry M. Jackson, D. Wash., said today.  . . .  A 50-50 division of the cost between the government and local agencies is being considered, he said.

Federal Money To Fix Levees


50-50 cost sharing proposed.



flood cost, effect of new law, hit county taxpayers

Last spring’s flood and the effect of a new state law will hit the taxpayers’ pocketbooks in Skagit county next year. Cost of rebuilding and strengthening the dikes along the Skagit accounts of a boost in the levy for most of the districts affected by the flood as well as some of the others. The new state law, providing for levying dike taxes on the basis of improvements as well as acreage, has sent the valuation of the districts soaring, particularly those which include city property. . . .  All the diking districts but one affected by the flood have higher levies in the coming year. Diking district 15, on Fir island, has doubled its rate from 100 to 200 mills. Diking district 20, paying for past improvements, keeps its rate at 170 mills. The two districts which include parts of Mount Vernon, No. 1, on the west side of the river, and 3, on the east, show the biggest jump in valuation. District 1 has a valuation of $1,081,545, as compared with $347,855 before the new law went into effect. District 3 has upped its valuation from $401,636, when only acreage value was counted to $2,138,350, representing improvements as well as land. Reduce Mill Rate Thanks to the big boost in valuation, district 3 was able to reduce its mill rate from 37 to 7, to produce approximately the same amount of revenue. District 1 increased its rate from 15 to 20 and its revenue from $5,218 to $21,630. . . .  

Dike District Assessments Soaring


Dike District 15 on Fir Island charging 200 mills ($200 per $1,000 assessed valuation).




Dike District #3 reduced from 37 mills to 7.


Dike districts now allowed to tax improvements instead of just land.



county starts job at devil’s elbow

Dynamiting of the rock promontory at Devil’s Elbow on the upper Skagit river began Monday as the first step in construction of the rock road bed across the small bay on the south side of the river southeast of Concrete, the engineer’s office reported today. About 5,000 of the necessary 25,000 cubic of rock will be obtained from the spot for the dike, which is part of the second unit of the Dalles bridge project. About 13,000 yards of rock are needed for the base of the revetment, another 12,000 to establish the subgrade and about 40,000 yards of earth to complete the fill. . . .

Dalles Bridge Work Begins



IX.                Council Discusses Diking Situation Wednesday Night

The only matter to bring any amount of discussion at the monthly meeting of the Burlington city council Wednesday evening was the current and timely subject of the dike problem. An ordinance was submitted to the council to give city officials the power to sign a petition to have city property taken into diking district No. 12.  . . .  During the discussion it was suggested by some members of the council that the City of Burlington form their own diking district and in that way have some control over what local citizens might be taxed and what work might be done on the dike.  . . .  It was also pointed out that there is still some controversy as to just where the diking district lines are and what personal property are in the district. The result of the discussion was that Mayor Swanland referred the ordinance and petition to the council dike committee of Smith and Buterfield for further study and information.

Dike 12 Expansion



City discussed forming own dike district.




While the proposal to build us a new road to Rockport is generally welcomed in the valley, we are not at all convinced that the rumored route on the high level back of the Rockport park is where the future highway is to be located.  Our belief is that when a final main arterial is built it will follow the river on a low level that will eliminate the grades over ridges, the bridges and fill over ravines and the ballets with slides and erosion.  Our idea of the perfect river road is the short piece below town which proves that the river is no longer a highway problem.  Of course, the state men may know more than we do about the future of the valley – maybe the proposed Faber dam is going to flood the valley to Marblemount and force all future traffic up on the side hills.  We don’t like to think about this ever happening.  One of the best ways we know to prevent the dam would be to have a road system that will develop the upper valley to a point where a dam would be impractical.  It appears this could best be done with a highway that eliminates our long-standing hazards – Faber Hill, Rockport Hill and so on up the Skagit.  We’d hate to have to spend another half century accomplishing this end.

Rockport Road



Editor wanted road built in a location that would prohibit the construction of anymore dams especially the Faber Dam.



steel for dalles bridge now arriving at site

General Construction Co., contractors for the bridge and steel workers of the Arthur Fralick Co., subcontractors who will erect the steel, immediately set to work unloading the girders and castings.  As to yesterday ten cars have now been received and are expected daily as the work progresses.  The steel is being taken by truck directly to the bridge site where it is being piled along the roadway.  It now stretches from the river north almost to the “Y”. . . . Actual erection of steel will not start for about a week or ten days as the crew must first replace the present high line with a higher tower and heavier cable.  As soon as this is done the steel will begin to rise.

Dalles Bridge


The actual construction of the bridge span was underway.



Real Estate Ads

What Farms Used to Cost



Dike Situation Needs Attention

Norm Wallace, chairman of the flood control committee, told the Journal this week that plans for repairing the dike in the vicinity of Burlington and north and east has come to a serious impasse.  He stated that the dike commissioners of district number 12 informed him that they cannot legally spend any money on dike repairs upriver from Rio Vista in Burlington. They have discovered that as far as records go few if any persons in this area have ever or at least in the last few years paid any taxes into the dike district. Therefore this section of the county is not considered in any dike district.



Dike upriver of Rio Vista not in Dike District 12.  Dike was in County, not City of Burlington.



A Solution to Both Highway & Dike Problem

In as much as it looks like a four lane highway through Burlington will not be visualized, people who have the interest of Burlington at heart as well as those residing in the nearby communities are busy trying to find a suitable place for a four lane highway north and south of Burlington.  . . .  A solution to this bad solution could be made by routing the highway east of Burlington. If the highway started at the Conway hill and followed the hill to Mount Vernon city limits then directly north to Hoag hill following the dike road north, it would intercept highway 99 just two miles from the fish hatchery.  This could make the highway run just one fourth mile east of Skagit street on the dike. It would reduce the cost of maintaining the dikes approximately three-fourths if the state did use the dikes as the highway. 

New Road Proposed


This proposal is almost the same as was originally proposed by the WSDOT for the freeway. 


Good example of a missed opportunity.  Old Burlington dike was on Skagit Street.



steel span now out over river

The Dalles bridge starting edging its way from the south side of the Skagit River last week as steel began to form under the skilled hands of the Arthur Fralich Co. crew.  Steel is now in place from the south end of the bridge to the south pier and a section has been completed from the pier north across the water.  Girders and framework are in place, also much of the deck structure.  Riveting has started behind the erection crew.  The two large barges arrived on the Dalles site Monday after a hectic 10-day trip up the Skagit.  Low water caused lots of trouble and delayed the trip almost a week.  On the barge is a large crane with a 130-foot boom which will be used to handle the steel that will be used out over the river.

Dalles Bridge


It took ten days for two barges to make it from Fir Island to Concrete due to low water in the Skagit River.




For many years we have been an active booster for all types of development in the upper valley.  New roads, new bridges, better stores, bigger industries.  In these the valley has made some strides and from indications is continually growing toward that goal of the early dreamers – full development of all the various resources.  Yet is all this exactly what we want?  Sometimes we have our doubts.  With progress comes a number of disadvantages.  Roads that make it easy for us to reach a favorite fishing spot also bring a hundred other guys who have more time to fish it out.  We find our scenic spots being cluttered with beer cans, our peaceful hideaways filled with sometimes unappreciative strangers.  A usual leisurely way of life is being speeded up by urgency of progress.  The restlessness of the pioneer is easily understandable – find, build, welcome the newcomers and then realize that what you have sought is lost through your own enthusiasm.  Therein lies the charm of the phrase, “the good old days.”  We liked it as it was, didn’t we?  And so we move along, reluctant, to that next bit of promotion.  Where to from here?

Growth in Skagit County


Excellent commentary re the pro’s and con’s of “progress” in Skagit County.


Indeed, “Where to from here?”



Cascade Days Will Dedicate New Bridge

Cascade days at Concrete, will be held this week-end, August 8 and 9 sponsored by the American Legion Post No. 132 of Concrete. This year’s celebration will be high-lighted by the dedication and opening of the new Dalles bridge across the Skagit river.

Dalles Bridge Opens



dalles bridge dedication will be saturday event – Editorial

Dedication of the new Dalles Bridge just south of town will be one of the big events of the Cascade Days celebration opening tomorrow.  This event just happened to work out perfectly for the celebration as construction and final painting will be complete this week.  The opening of the bridge will be real as well as formal as after the ceremony which will conclude with the symbolic cutting of the ribbon by the Cascade Queen, the bridge and road will be open to traffic.  At present the traffic will be permitted only as far as the Ovenell ranch, but it means the first direct outlet for the people of south Concrete.  Simultaneously with the bridge opening the Concrete ferry will be discontinued for all time.

Dalles Bridge Completed



concrete ferry will go down river to fir island

The Concrete ferry, which has been closed down with the opening of the Dalles bridge, has another job ahead of it before complete retirement.  The county commissioners have given the ferry to the state game department for use on the lower Skagit between the mainland and Fir Island.  Continual widening and changing of the South Fork of the river below Conway has made it impractical to put in a bridge to the state game farm on the island.  To provide a more reliable method of transportation the department will move the ferry to that point and operate it with winch and cable.  When the Faber ferry is discontinued in about 60 to 90 days, the present plan is to beach it and hold it as an emergency replacement for either the Rockport or Pressentin ferry until such time as these can also be retired.  Retirement of the ferries will start paying dividends to the county in funds saved.  Operating costs and salaries run close to $1,000 a month for each ferry.

Concrete, Faber Ferries


Concrete ferry was retired to Fir Island Game Dept.  Faber ferry was also discontinued and saved the taxpayers $1,000 a month for each ferry.



new bridge is opened

Traffic across the new bridge at the Dalles may be limited to just a few fortunate residents of the south Concrete area for a time being, but the bridge and road had a busy flurry of activity about 3:30 Saturday afternoon.  It was just a few minutes after Cascade Queen Dolores Keller cut the taut white ribbon that represented the final barrier.  As soon as the flatbed truck which served as the speaker’s stand was moved to one side the cars began to roll across the bridge for the first time.Within an hour or so afterward – the first “pay load” rolled across in the form of farm equipment and a return of farm produce from the Ovenell farm.  . . .  Arthur J. Ward, Sedro-Woolley attorney then made the address of dedication in which he told of the many years of working and hoping that preceded the building of the bridge.  He commented on the fine work of the men who pushed the bond issue to a successful conclusion, and to those who then took over to build a bridge that is one of the most beautiful in the county.

The Dalles Bridge Open



power shortage hits baker dam

The growing power shortage caused by the unprecedented lack of rainfall this year, began to hurt on the local level this week and is threatening even more serious conditions for the balance of the winter.  The shortage is no longer just theory – it is here.  First to feel the shortage was the plant of Superior Portland Cement, Inc. here.  They have had to cut down operations to a minimum.  Other industries and even small users are asked to aid in further cuts in order to make the water behind the dams last as long as possible.  . . .  Actually all the water that is being used is a small stream to keep the fish run in progress.  The lake is now at 421.30 ft. – about 15 feet below normal.  As a method of comparison the river normally runs 30,000 second feet.  At present the flow is but 432 second feet!  . . .  One thing that must be considered is that the shortage is not just temporary.  Unless heavy rains begin to fall and continue for a long period, the lakes and streams will continue to drop.  The cold weather is no help as snow will merely pile up in the hills to be used next spring.  A chinook wind is all that could bring it down.  Normally this is flood season with lots of water.  Today it appears that it will take very unusual weather conditions to relieve the power shortage before spring.

Unprecedented Lack of Rainfall

Power Shortage



Water kept flowing for fish runs only.



ross dam power due

Tests of the first generator to go into service at the new Ross Dam power house were made yesterday by technicians and officials of City Light.  The huge generator will produce 70,000 kilowatts of new power for the northwest. As soon as the tests are completed satisfactorily, power will begin to flow from the generator to boost City Lights upper Skagit output.  The generator will go into use immediately.  Water from Ross Dam has been providing extra storage for Diablo and Gorge powerhouses for several years, but this is the first time the water has been used for operation of the new powerhouse.  The new generator will be the first of three to be installed under present plans.  Each generator is rated for a capacity of 90,000 kilowatts in normal operations with a peak of 100,000 kilowatts when demand is great.  City Light officials say the probable output for the present time will be 70,000 k.w.

Ross Dam


Ross dam begins to produce electricity.



ross dam to flood past canada border this year

Seattle’s City Light project on the upper Skagit will extend into Canada this year.  A crew of 45 men is now at work on clearing a 600-acre tract north of the Canadian boundary and when their work is done about July first, Ross Lake will extend about a mile and a half into Canada.  The clearing will provide about 1,400,000 acre-feet of storage in Ross Lake.  This will permit three generators in Ross Powerhouse to deliver their full load of 270,000 kilowatts by next winter.  Just one generator is now in service.  Canada will be paid $255,508 for the flooding of Canadian lands.  The City Light has an agreement for further flooding when the height of Ross Dam is increased 130 ft. under future plans.

Ross Dam Floods Canada


Canada was paid $255,508 in order to flood their land.  Seattle City Light had plans to further raise Ross Dam another 130 feet.



argue for open river

A large delegation from Concrete, Rockport and Marblemount joined with the members of the Wildcat Steelhead of Sedro-Woolley Monday evening in an effort to have the upper Skagit River once again opened for salmon fishing.  The target of their pleas was Mr. Schottler, director of the state department of fisheries, under whose orders the river was closed to such sports fishing about Gilligan Creek.  . . .  Mr. Schottler made it clear that the closure of the river was a move to aid in the reestablishment of the Chinook salmon run, as other salmon runs seemed to be holding up or improving during the past few years.  He stated that the diminishing return of salmon was due to changes in the river from cutting of forests, dams, and pollution over the past 62 years.  His department has bee working on the problem for some years and it was in 1951 that the first closure to sports fishing was put into effect on the entire river.  . . .  Dr. Hunter pointed out that no effort had ever been made to determine how much effect sports fishing in the river had on the salmon runs and questioned that the few taken by hook and line in a year could approach the take of a gill-netter in a week.

Fish Issue


River closed to sports fisherman in order to protect the Chinook Salmon.  State Fisheries Dept. blamed the dams, logging, and pollution. 



open skagit to baker on silvers

Recent efforts of the sportsmen of the upper Skagit valley paid off this week with the announcement of a special sport fishing season for silver salmon on the Skagit River.  The season has been set for October 10th through November 10 by the state department of fisheries.  The open season embraces the Skagit River from Gilligan Creek, below Lyman, to the confluence of the Baker and Skagit rivers at Concrete.  . . .  The sports possession limit of salmon in stream is two fish over 20 inches in length.  The fishermen are restricted to two single or one double pronged hook.  The use of triple hooks is prohibited.  . . .  The research staff felt that a season from October 10 to November 10 would not materially affect Chinook spawning in the main stream and that so far this year the returns indicate that the department is getting a fair escapement of salmon to the hatchery.

Fish Issue


Fish number and size limits for silvers.  “Good Chinook return”??



city light plans set

Good news for the upper valley was released last night by City Light of Seattle with details of a $23,000,000 program of construction for the upper Skagit projects during the next three projects during the next three years.  The total will include $17,000,000 for a new 300-foot dam for the Gorge power plant and six million to install a fourth generator at the Ross Dam powerhouse.

Seattle City Light


New dam at Gorge and new generator for Ross.



new baker dam asked

A new hydro-electric dam on the Baker River, a project which has been considered by Puget Sound Power & Light Co. for the past twenty-five years, seems about to become a reality!  Last week the power company announced that engineers are now preparing the information to apply to the Federal Power Commission for a preliminary permit to develop the project.  The Upper Baker site has been owned by Puget for many years, ever since the building of the present dam here, and would make possible a generating plant and a storage reservoir about the same size as the existing plant here – capacity of about 40,000 kilowatts.  The new project would have the additional merits of being close to load centers in Skagit and Whatcom counties and would provide better stream control of the Baker River.  The latter would enable the company to enlarge facilities at the local power station by 50,000 kilowatts.

Upper Baker Dam


Cost of project estimated at $12,000,000.



Ross Dam May Be raised 125 Feet Under New Plan

Possible development of Ross Dam by addition of another 125 feet is now being considered by City Light, in addition to the work already planned for the Skagit project.  E.R. Hoffman, supt., told the power commission Tuesday that the additional 125 feet would impound another 3,400,000 acre ft. of water and provide storage for three or four years as a protection against low water.

Ross Dam


Dam could be raised another 125 feet.



rainfall in 1953 was the most, to say the least

In case anyone has been wondering about it, 1953 was the wettest year on record with 37.16 inches of rain for the twelve month period in the lower valley and unofficial records of into 40 inches in the upper valley.  Officially the rainfall was 8.37 inches more than normal.  In direct contrast to 1952, which was the driest year with just half the amount of 1953 rainfall, last year received most of its dampness in January and December.  The pattern is already set for another wet year with the first six days of 1954 being almost continuous rain with up to 1½ falling in one 24 hour period.



1953 wettest year on record.  37.16 inches in 12 months.  Produced small flood on February 1, 1953.



ask permit for dam

The first step toward the building of a $12 million dollar dam on the upper Baker River was made last Thursday by Puget Sound Power & Light company with the filing of an application for a preliminary permit for the hydro-electric project with the Federal Power Commission.  . . .  The proposed dam would be built at Eaglecrout canyon, about seven miles north of Concrete and would provide a generating plant of about 60,000 kilowatts.  The new dam would also provide greater stream control on the Baker and enable additional power production from the present dam and power house here.  The local plant capacity can be increased 50,000 kilowatts for a total capacity in excess of 150,000 kilowatts for the combined operation.  . . . As the site has been long owned by the company and there are few controversial problems connected with it’s construction, it is anticipated that the Federal Power Commission will grant the permit and expedite the plans of the company for early completion of the new power source.

Upper Baker Dam


Dam to be built in Eaglecrout Canyon.  Little controversy expected in building of dam.



large fish plant set for skagit area this year

Upper Puget Sound hatcheries provided more than a million young salmon for streams in Skagit, Snohomish and Whatcom counties for the first quarter plantings in 1954, the Department of Fisheries announced today. . . . Skagit County streams were given a transfusion of 435,300 yearling silvers and 285,600 pink salmon fingerlings with 1954 plantings from the Samish hatchery north of Burlington and the Skagit hatchery near Marblemount.  Skagit hatchery crews under the direction of Superintendent E. G. Fieher, planted 270,900 yearling silvers and 285,600 pinks from the 1953 brood in the Stillaguamish river and Bacon, Goodell, Illabot, Grandy, Squire, Boulder, French, Day, Jones, Finney and Diobsud creeks.  In the rearing ponds awaiting planting are 266,300 yearling silvers with 485,400 spring chinook scheduled for additional rearing while 667,100 1953 silver fry remaining in the hatchery will be transferred soon to the ponds.

Fish Issue


435,300 yearling silvers, 285,600 humpies, put into the system.  Another 266,300 silvers and 485,400 spring Chinook remained in rearing ponds.  This had to have had a tremendous impact on the fish runs on the Skagit River.  Need to determine how many fish are being planted today.  Between the impacts of Lower Baker Dam, and the decrease in hatchery fish and the Tribal nets I think the real reason for the “fish crisis” is beginning to be told.



fine steelhead plant for skagit river this year

The state game department has been busy the past week loading the Skagit River with young steelhead.  Hank Moore, local game protector, stopped at the Herald office last Thursday with a load of the beautiful little fish, each husky and about six to 7 inches long.  They weighed 11 to the pound and the aerated tank truck carried about 4,400 to a load.  Many thousand will go in the river this season to help reestablish the Skagit steelhead run.

Fish Issue


Many thousand Steelhead put into the system.



plans revealed on gorge dam

Contractors are now inspecting the site and preliminary plans for the Gorge high dam and power intake tunnel on the Skagit between Newhalem and Diablo.  Seattle City Light hopes to have final drawings complete soon so that bids can be called this summer.  The proposed dam is to be a combination arch and gravity structure rising about 150 feet above the present river bed.  It will be 670 feet long and will replace the temporary diversion dam for the Gorge powerhouse.  . . .  Not satisfied with present drilling on the proposed hydro-electric dam at Copper Creek on the Skagit between Marblemount and Newhalem, the Seattle City Light has requested $250,000 more to continue their search for a suitable bed-rock location for the dam.

Gorge Dam


Appears Cooper Creek Dam might not have been built because of suitable bed-rock location.



permit on baker dam

Big news for the Concrete area was in newspaper headlines this week with the announcement that the Federal Power Commission has granted the Puget Sound Power & Light Co. a three-year preliminary permit for its proposed hydroelectric project on the Baker River.  . . .  Mr. McLaughlin estimated that the completed work, now under consideration, would run close to $30,000,000 in cost.  . . .  As heretofore stated, the permit is “temporary” and the work done by the company will be in hopes of proving out all points in favor of a completed project, but the outlook is entirely optimistic from all standpoints.  The power is needed, the planning is sound.  No adverse findings are anticipated.

Upper Baker Dam


Cost now $30,000,000.  Temporary permit issued.



the open forum

Some years ago, the Skagit River was closed to salmon fishing by the Dept. of Fisheries.  Why this was done remains a mystery to hundreds of sportsmen up and down the Skagit Valley.  At that time the Dept. of Fisheries claimed the salmon that came above the mouth of the Baker River were unfit to eat – which is about the most ignorant statement the Dept. has made to the public.  . . .  “Mr. Schoettler, who is the head of the Dept. of Fisheries and has the say of the river being open or closed, was called in to several sportsmen meetings in the past few years with the sole intent of asking him to open the river up to salmon fishing.  Nothing was ever gained by any of the meetings.  Mr. Schoettler has made it very clear to all that were present that he was working for the commercial fishermen’s benefit and not the sportsmen.  Mr. Schoettler also admitted there had not been any research done before closing the river as to what harm the sportsmen had done to the salmon run.  He was told of the gill netters and purse-seiners who were fishing far up in the mouth of the river (which is illegal).  He made the statement that he had not known this was going on, but it seems very strange that even the people of Marblemount have known of this condition for years. 

Fish Issue


Open letter to state representative re closing of Skagit River to sports fisherman. 



vote for the skagit bridge bond issue on primary ballot (advertisement)

This Bond Issue Will Help Build Badly Needed Bridges–

  1. Across the Swinomish Channel at LaConner
  2. Across the North Fork of the Skagit River
  3. Across the Sauk River

These bridges have to be built one way or another.  Without the bond issue to do the job, funds would have to come from other sources and many important items like county roads, and indirectly school funds, might have to suffer.  It would be a long drawn out and painful process for the whole county.  The Bridge Bond Issue is the best and easiest method of meeting the problem–

.New Bridges Proposed in Skagit County



gorge dam bids to be opened dec. 1st

The contract for the new dam at Gorge Creek on the upper Skagit will be let December 1st, according to latest word from Seattle City Light.  The bids were to have been opened, some time ago, but delays of one kind or another have kept the date moving ahead.  The 17 million dollar project will include a 300 foot dam and a highway between Newhalem and Diablo.  The job will require three years to complete and is expected to bring another era of activity in the upper Skagit through increased payroll and many new people coming into the Newhalem and Marblemount areas.

Gorge Dam


Cost $17,000,000.



Dike District Information Given

            On behalf of the City of Burlington and those interested, you have asked when the new dike which is to be built under the plans of Dike District No. 12, east and northeast of Burlington, will be built.  Our present difficulty arises from the fact that we have some trouble acquiring a small portion of the right-of-way but we expect this will be ironed out shortly.  As soon as right-of-way is fully acquired, and weather conditions permit, we expect to proceed immediately.  It would be costly to the taxpayers and foolish to attempt piece-meal construction.  We have received and hope to continue to receive the support of the majority of interested parties.


Letter to Burlington from Dike 12 re status of new dike.



C-C Names 3-Man River Group on Barge Route

Continuing their drive to open the Skagit river to more river traffic the board of directors of the Chamber of Commerce selected a three-man “river-committee” at its noon meeting yesterday in the President hotel. Leo Beckley was appointed chairman of the committee by Ted Reep, chamber president. Andy Loft and Bob Ringman will also work on the project. . . .  The Chamber initiated action last week to have the Skagit river dredged from Mount Vernon to Puget Sound.

Chamber of Commerce Wants River Dredging for River Traffic



more plans for city light dams

Big plans for future expansion of the City Light installations on the upper Skagit were proposed this past week to the Seattle City Council.  The program came as the result of studies on present and future needs of City Light and the total figure for completed plans will run into many millions of dollars.  The new plans include increasing power production by a dam on Thunder Creek, which flows into Diablo Lake; and by construction of another dam on Copper Creek on the Skagit just above Bacon Creek.  The Skagit dam would provide an additional 60,000 to 70,000 kilowatts and would back water right up to Newhalem camp.

Thunder Creek & Cooper Creek Dams


Neither were ever built.



Baker River Dam Planned At Concrete

A dam on the Baker river north of Concrete is one of several major power projects now under consideration in the Puget Sound – Cascade region, which would more than double the present power supply during the next eight years. . . .  The project on the Baker river, which is currently being investigated by the Puget Sound Power and Light company, would add 140,000 kilowatts of new capacity. Surveys for the dam, which would be located just inside the Whatcom county line, already have been made to a great extent.

Upper Baker Dam Planned



baker dam is recommended

Another boost to hopes of local people that some action will soon be taken toward a new hydro-electric power dam on the upper Baker river was given this week in the release of the power expansion report of the Puget Sound Utilities Council.  During the next 8 years the five utilities, public and private, which make up the Council, will invest 670 million dollars or more in new electric power generation, transmission and distribution facilities.    First on the list of those recommended for immediate action by Jack D. Stevens, consulting engineer who prepared the report, is the new dam on the Baker!    The specifications for the dam as listed in the report call for a concrete, gravity type dam to impound water to a normal elevation of 724 feet.  Gross static head would be 290 feet and installed capacity 85,000 k.w.  The reservoir would provide 130,000 acre-feet of storage between the two installations.

Upper Baker Dam


Elevation proposed 724 feet, 130,000 acre feet of storage between the two installations.



Information On Dike Problems

            I am writing to you in behalf of the Sterling Dike Association, a group which we recently formed to explore the possibilities of obtaining adequate dike protection for our area.  As you will note from the enclosed map, we have a small area of about 600 acres representing homes and farms of over 40 families and individuals.  This is excellent agricultural land and portions of it now are opening up as subdivision property.  As the situation now stands, Dike District No. 12 has recently included additional lands within their district, and including the city of Burlington.         Other areas to the south of this are included along the Skagit River, but Sterling district has been dike out.  . . .  We feel that by being on the outside of the dike we will be subjected to increased flood damage since about 600 acres down the river from us will be included in the new dike, thus tending to confine the flow of the river and force it back into unprotected area.  Those who have built new homes in the vicinity are very concerned that the land which has not previously flooded will be subject to overflow as a result of the new protected dike and it is obvious that a dike at our backs would lessen the value of our property.


This was a letter to State Senator Paul Luvera from B.J. Bourns, Secretary of the Sterling Dike Association






Recognized water would back up on their property from Dike 12 new dike.



Skagit Farmers Protesting Dike Location ‘Walls Off’ Their Lands

. . .  Residents of Sterling, a farming community 600 acres up the river, have written to State Sen. Paul N. Luvera of Anacortes protesting the location of the new dike.  Mrs. Johnson says that she and her husband have a lawyer fighting the dike placement for them.  “About half of the people of Burlington are for us,” she said, “they think it is an awful thing they are doing to us out here.”  The land for the dike, which has already been acquired by Dike District 12, follows the old railroad logging grade from the Burlington acreage towards Sedro-Woolley.  Lawrence Boettcher, who owns 18 acres in front of the new dike location, is sharply critical of the dike plans.  . . .  Mrs. Florence Johnson said she and her husband are “almost sick” over the situation.  “My husband was born this land and has lived here for 60 years,” she said.  “We built our new house high so it would be protected from floods, but it won’t be any good now because the dike would raise the water level two feet if we have a flood.”

Sterling Residents Protest Dike 12 Moving Their Dike


Residents felt new levee location would raise flood waters by 2 feet. 



Mount Vernon C-C Asks Federal Aid in Struggle for Inland Port

Nine-Mile $500,000 Barge Route in Skagit Sought

Mount Vernon today renewed its long fight to win status as an inland port by creation of an all-year nine-mile $500,000 barge route down the silt-choked channel of the Skagit river to salt water below LaConner.  . . .  Receives Copies  Mrs. Anna Grimison, president of Skagit River Navigation and Trading company which currently operates shallow-draft sternwheelers on the Skagit, will receive copies of the letters to Westland and Jackson.  If she indicates that river dredging will benefit river commerce, the Chamber said, a hearing will be asked with the Army engineers.  The Engineers estimate that about six miles of dredging would be necessary, with the federal government bearing bulk of the cost if the project is approved.  Approval would depend on area ability to show annual savings of at least $350,000, the Engineers said.  The last major improvement work on the channel was completed in 1911, and dredging of the river was entirely discontinued in 1941.  Today, a government snag boat is the lone craft assigned to clear river jams.  . . .  Need Justification  . . .  Delta silt at the mouth of the Skagit is one of the main obstacles to passage of all but shallow draft craft.  The project won immediate support from Mount Vernon officials and industry spokesmen.  “The Skagit river would become another outlet for transportation for Mount Vernon and the Chamber of Commerce should spark-plug it,” Ted Reep, Chamber president, said.  . . .  Seek Schedules  . . .  Channel deepening would permit extensive tugboat operations on the river.  . . .  Trouble Develops  . . .  Dunlap says a jetty is needed near the mouth besides dredging if the river is to stay navigable.


Mt. Vernon Wants Barge Route On Skagit

Proposed 9 mile Dredged Channel To Puget Sound



Last major improvement to mouth of Skagit was in 1911.  Dredging (side-casting) stopped in 1941.



Skagit Officials to Make Barge Route Inspection

Top Skagit county and Mount Vernon officials – fighting to win a year-around tug and barge route on the Skagit river from Mount Vernon to salt water – tomorrow will personally inspect low water navigation hazards on the nine-mile route. . . .  Lowest tides of 1955 will be recorded on the Skagit river delta today and tomorrow, and official will see firsthand how the delta blocks passage of all but shallow-draft traffic for 22 hours daily under worst tide conditions. Jim Dunlap, tug company operator, estimated that tomorrow the exposed bar will be passable for only two hours when covered by six feet of water from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Under ideal conditions, Dunlap said, his tugs should have seven or eight feet for operation. . . .  Strong representations were made to the area representatives in Washington, D.C., to press for the project, estimated to cost about $500,000.

Local Officials Inspect River Lower River Hazards



Mouth of Skagit River covered by 6 feet of water only 2 hours a day.



(picture Caption)- Inspect River

Members of the board of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce and county officials inspect the silt choked north fork of the Skagit River this morning. The party was the guest of the Dunlap Towing Company. The men were to be guests at a salmon barbecue this afternoon. The chamber and other county groups are trying to have the driver dredged so that barge traffic can get up to Mount Vernon.

Picture of River Inspection



Fill Materials To Be Dredged From Skagit

Highway To Use Half Million Cubic yards

Dredging operations for fill material for the stretch of highway construction between the overpass of the Great Northern and the new bridge now in construction at Riverside probably will not get under way Monday as first planned, but will soon thereafter.  . . .  About a half million yards of material is to be taken from the Skagit River in the vicinity of Young’s bar by Osberg and Manson to be used on the PJ Anderson contract job.  The State Highway Dept had purchased land north of Fir street in the vicinity of the cemetery for borrow materials for fill but the contractor is said to have figured costs on dredging cheaper for these materials.  . . .  Some concern has been expressed as to weakening the east bank of the river but one authority said yesterday that a deepened channel might ease the wear on that bank.  On the other hand it is believed that all sand and silt removed will soon be replaced by the erosive action of the river.  Young’s bar has extended its reaches gradually for many years gently swinging the river eastward.



Dredging by Young’s Bar



Fear Damage To Pipeline Across River

Commissioners Object to Dredging Near Pipeline

Fearful of possible damage to the river pipe line across the Skagit At Riverside through dredging operations the Commissioners of PUD 1 yesterday instructed Attorney Warren J Gilbert to take all necessary steps to protect the line.  . . .  meeting has been held with contractors who plan to get highway building materials through dredging between the two bridges at Riverside…Commissioners took a positive stand in that no excavation or dredging at all was to be done close to the 12 inch water line under the Skagit.  They pointed out that water through that line is furnished to about 10,000 persons and considerable industrial work in Burlington and Sedro-Woolley and that a cutoff of the line would necessitate at least three of four days to get more line through order and about the same time to install it..


Dredging at Young’s Bar



baker dam provides site for study of migrating salmon in building runs

A combined experimental project in which the State Fisheries Dept., the International Salmon-Sockeye Commission and Puget Sound Power & Light Co. delved into the long standing problem of getting a fish run over a high dam was closed last week end at the Baker dam here.  While results of some of the experiments were disappointing due to unusual water conditions, the general program produced a number of definite conclusions that will be of great value in planning future dams, and in altering present dams so that both water power and fish runs can be maintained without conflict.  Of particular interest on the Baker river is the sockeye run, which is deemed of great value.  The run taken over the dam by the trap method has been about 3,000 a year.  The silver run is about 12,000 a year.  In the past year some 61,000 Chinook were planted in the lake in hopes of getting this species started.  . . .  It was found that the fish are attracted to the positive pole of the electric current and effected according to the size of the fish.  Some of the larger fish were killed by the 48 volt current, but the majority were guided into the trap without injury.  While the experiments proved the theory workable, high water and technical problems made the results disappointing in that the system was inoperable at the time when the most fish were present in the forebay of the dam.  Further laboratory experiments are expected to take out the “bugs” brought to attention in the actual field work here.  . . .  On the Baker dam it was found that a great mortality occurred due to the fish hitting the surface of the dam on the way down.  Those who had a free-fall lived through seemingly without damage.  . . . Also under way at present are plans for immediate building of an artificial spawning grounds on the upper Baker, above Baker lake, at which area the fish from the Baker dam will be propagated and allowed to return downstream.  This experiment has also proved successful on smaller streams and if it can be carried on in the upper Baker it will be invaluable when the new Baker dam is built and the level of Baker Lake (the present spawning area) is raised 50 to 60 feet.

Lower Baker Dam

Fish Issue


61,000 Chinook planted in Lake Shannon.  Sockeye lifted over dam 3,000; Silvers 12,000. 


The use of electricity to guide the fish was part of the experiment.  Also tried was a method of “tattooing the fish to see how many of them would make it through the turbines alive.


Artificial spawning grounds on the upper Baker above Baker Lake proposed.


This study was used in the approval process of Upper Baker Dam.



Dredging Will Affect Valley, Hughes Warns

County Commissioner Lowell Hughes warned the Chamber of Commerce board yesterday that dredging the Skagit river could produce good or bad results to the lower Skagit Valley depending on what work was done to the river. “What you do at the mouth of the river affects the lower valley,” Hughes said. He said that dredging the river would help in flood control, but would not be permanent since river silt would fill the bottom. A “wing dam” would be needed to create a permanent channel, but such a dam might increase the danger of floods along the lower part of the Skagit, he explained.

Dredging Good & Bad



Lake Resort Site Offered for Bids

Possibility of a new resort on Diablo lake is in prospect with the advertisement by the Forestry Dept. for applications to develop the facilities on the site of the old work camp on the north shore of the lake about a half-mile up from Diablo dam.    The Forest Service will require that a lodge-coffee shop be installed with living quarters and guest rooms to be added later.  Sale of candy and fishing tackle would also be required in addition to lunch room facilities.

Diablo Lake Resort Proposed



In Skagit Dredging – Chamber Requests River Industry Aid

A series of letters soliciting aid in getting the Skagit River improved for better water transportation were mailed today by the Chamber of Commerce to various industries along the river. . . .  Harry Grimison of the Skagit River Navigation and Trading Company, founded in 1890, said his two stern wheelers have not been able to navigate the silt filled north fork of the river for the past ten days. Jim Dunlap, speaking for the Dunlap Towing company in LaConner, said the firm towed $2 million worth of timber down the river last year from upper Skagit County. “We brought down 32 million board feet of timber which otherwise would have been carried on the highways and there is more to come,” he said. Both men said they could only use the river at high tides to get over the delta land at the mouth of the river.

Dredging Letters Sent


$2,000,000 worth of timber floated down the river in 1954.  32 million board feet.



Engineers Will Deepen Skagit Mouth Immediately – WestlandNorth Fork River Work

The plug is about to be pulled out of the silt-filled mouth of the north fork of the Skagit River. Congressman Jack Westland, second district sent the Daily Herald the following telegram this morning: “Regarding action to improve conditions at the mouth of the north fork of Skagit River. Army engineers advise work will be undertaken immediately to deepen channel depth about six inches. This deepening will mean the difference between vessels and rafts standing or making the passage safely.” . . .  “This action by the Army Engineers came as the result of work by the Chamber of Commerce which has sparked the drive to clean out the river and improve it for more use of water transport transportation,” Reep said. . . .  Commercial rivermen Harry Grimison and Jim Dunlap told Chamber of Commerce Board members two weeks ago that river boats and log rafts could now get through the north fork only during high tides.

North Fork Mouth Of River To Be DREDGED


“Dredged” (actually side-cast) six inches deeper.  Done entirely for the benefit of river boats and log rafts.  Had nothing to do with flood control.



River Channel Work Started, Limited Scale

Further Work Recommended by Engineer Study

The US army engineers’ snag boat Preston was set to work this week to lower the bar at the mouth of the Skagit river north fork by six inches as emergency relief to freight boat and log rafting operations.  . . .  Westlands research assistant Jack Anderson told the Argus from Everett today that the six-inch figure was correct.  He explained that the engineers funds for such work was limited.  The river users said, however, according to Anderson, that the six-inch lowering of the bar would be a big help for high tide crossings.


Dredging in Mouth of River


Corps records indicate 33,270 cubic yards of sand was dredged from the North Fork.  (Source:  5/31/91 MFR).



Puget Power To Borrow $20 Million in 3 Years

Puget Sound Power and Light announced from Bellingham today that it has entered into a credit agreement with nine local and nine eastern and midwestern banks to borrow up to $20,000,000 in the next three years. . . .  McLaughlin said the upper Baker project, with a potential of 85,000 kilowatts, would also enable the installation of 55,000 additional kilowatts at Puget Sound’s present lower Baker plant.

Upper Baker Dam Needed $20,000,000 Loan



Puget Seeks License For Expansion

Upper Baker To Provide 85,000 KWs Added Power


Puget Sound Power & Light Company expects to apply by early September for a federal power commission license to develop its Upper Baker river hydroelectric site  . . .  Hoped for completion date of the Upper Baker development is 1959.



No mention in article of providing flood control.



Upper Baker Dam on Four Year Program

Another step toward the final announcement of beginning on the construction of the new hydroelectric dam on the upper Baker river café this week with the announcement that Puget Sound Power & Light Co. will file an application on September 1st for a license from the Federal Power Commission to develop the project.  They have set their tentative completion date for 1959.    The dam will be located on Eaglekrout canyon, just below the Koma Kulshan ranger station on the short piece of the Baker river remaining between Lake Shannon and Baker Lake.  Water from the dam will back up into Baker Lake and will completely change the lake by raising the waters approximately 50 feet.    As the company has worked out the details of handling fish runs with the state fisheries dept. no objections are expected from this source.  The forest service is also agreeable to specifications.

Upper Baker Dam


No objections expected from State Fisheries Department.




Good news this week in the announcement that the upper Baker river dam has at last emerged from the tentative stage and is now on the list of things to be done – and with a definite date in mind.  The final clincher, of course, will be the day contractors start work.  It is a good thing that day is some months away as if there was ever a town unprepared for any sort of a boom, it is Concrete.  Our growing pains are going to be very much like the ones experienced during the building of the present Baker dam when there was a tent or shack on every vacant lot, and a temporary town of boards and tar-paper on the East Concrete bench.  It was a temporary affair, but somehow the “temporary” shacks seemed to remain behind as permanent residences for many years to the exclusion of any chance of rebuilding with something better.  This time a little thought could go into planning for the increase in population if only by zoning out spots for trailer courts, requiring something better than shacks in the residential building areas.  Just one of the problems that can face the community soon.  We can’t say we weren’t warned.

Upper Baker Dam


Concrete was not prepared for the “boom”.  Wanted some “thought” to go into where workers would be housed.



X.                   Dike Job Is ¼ Completed

XI.                Construction of the new Dike District 12 dike East of Burlington is about one-quarter completed, according to the job foreman for P.J. Anderson and Sons, contractors.  Of an estimated 160,000 yards of dirt required for building the two-mile dike, about 40,000 yards had been hauled by Tuesday.   If favorable weather holds the dike could be completed in about another month. The soft and spongy nature of the river silt being used as fill has slowed down the Anderson equipment.

Dike 12 Project



“soft and spongy nature of the river silt being used as fill”



U.S. Skagit Flood Aid Unjustified, Army Says

The U.S. Army’s Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors, following a review study in Washington, D.C., this week, again has found that federal participation in flood control projects along the Skagit River would not be justified. . . .  Under study was a Skagit River flood control program authorized by Congress in 1936, but never implemented because of the unfavorable reports of engineers who held that the work could not be justified from the standpoint of the ratio of costs to benefits. This week the engineers told the board that a $29,000,000 Upper Baker Reservoir might possibly be justified if built both for flood control and power production purposes, but that such a project would face heavy opposition from fishery and recreation groups operating in the area.

Corps Again Says No To Skagit County

Upper Baker Dam Might Be Justified




Skagit Flood Control Is Recommended Dropped

In 1936 the army engineers made extensive surveys on the Skagit and set up many projects that could be used for flood control.  These included the earth dam at Faber, the Avon canal and similar ideas.  All have been found unfeasible from the standpoint of cost in ratio to benefits.

            The board recommended this week that the program be killed by Congress.

Corps Drops Flood Control For Skagit


Cost benefit ratio has always been what has killed flood control in Skagit County.


Westland Backing $20,000 Survey

Second District Congressman Jack Westland pledged his support yesterday in seeking a $20,000 appropriation in Congress to finance a survey of the Skagit River by the Army Corps of Engineers. . . .  Harry Grimison of the Skagit River Navigation Company said his boats could cross the sand bar at the mouth of the river only at high tides, which makes a regular schedule impossible. He noted that the engineers had opened a channel on the north course from Bald Island to Smuggler’s Cove this summer, but said it could not be used when certain types of winds are blowing.

$20,000 To Study Skagit River



Puget Power Plans $35 Million Project

The Federal Power Commission yesterday issued a license to Puget Sound Power & Light Company to construct a $35,000,000 Upper Baker River power dam, and the upriver town of Concrete immediately began wrestling with the problems which will result from the construction boom. The site of the second dam on the Baker River will be eight miles north of Concrete. . . .  The new dam will be 300 feet high, 200 feet wide, will be constructed of concrete with a straight gravity section, and will be 1,200 feet long with a 12-foot wide road across its top. . . .  Ed Monrad, Concrete businessman and past president of the Upper Skagit Valley Booster Club. Said this morning that “right now we are trying to figure out how we are going to put up just 35 engineers and official who will be arriving in the next two weeks. There just isn’t any empty housing in town, and the communities further down the valley also have their problems.” Monrad said he was “shocked” by a poor turnout for a booster club meeting last night – only seven persons appeared – at which discussion of how the community is to solve the housing and other problems which will be posed by the dam project was highlighted. . . .  Behind the new dam a reservoir some nine miles long and storing 980,000,000,000 gallons of water will be created. North of the dam a dike 1,260 feet long and 50 feet high, requiring 270,000 cubic yards of earth and rock fill will be constructed.

Upper Baker Dam Cost $35,000,000



Ike To Urge Flood Insurance

New England’s second disastrous flood in three months is likely to spur Congress to its first serious consideration of some form of federal flood insurance. President Eisenhower assured New England governors by letter from Denver Tuesday that the administration will make specific legislative suggestions next month.

Federal Flood Insurance Is Born



Ask Dam Permit

Application to the Federal Power Commission for a license to build an 85,000-kilowatt hydroelectric plant on the Upper Baker River here at an estimated cost of more than $27 million was announced this week by Puget Sound Power & Light Co.  The application was preceded by last week’s announcement by Skagit County P.U.D. that they had withdrawn their pending condemnation suit against the private company so that it could proceed with its plans.  The proposed dam, some 300 feet high, will be located about eight miles above the company’s present Baker River project here at Concrete and will impound 238 thousand acre feet of water in a reservoir nine miles long.  The reservoir will raise the level of Baker lake 40 to 60 feet and will provide a huge storage of water for the Baker river flow.    The entire development is scheduled for completion by 1959.

Most Obstacles Eliminated

One of the big obstacles in the hopes for early completion of the dam was removed when a joint study of migratory fish problems resulted in a meeting of the minds between fisheries authorities and the power engineers.  Studies at the Baker dam over the past several years have resulted in working out a number of new ideas that have eliminated most of the objections of the fisheries people to another dam on the Baker river, which is a centuries-old spawning area.

Upper Baker Dam Permit


Height of dam 300 feet.  Most fish issues resolved.  Baker River recognized as “centuries-old spawning area”.




One by one the green lights are going up on the Upper Baker Dam and there is now little doubt in a any of our minds that the next three years are going to be busy ones for Concrete and the upper valley.  It has been many years since Concrete had a boom in it’s midst and those that were here at that time can tell you that it makes a complete change in the community.  A lot of folks won’t like the change.  A lot more will take it for an opportunity to get rich and welcome every last penny.  Somewhere between the two extremes is the group that will take it as something that had to come and must be made a benefit rather than an inconvenience.  This group is going to have to do the planning necessary to make these ideals hold.  A lot of thinking must be done, and soon, to bring a lasting benefit to the community.  Fortunately we are well equipped with mercantile stores to provide necessities of life in any amount.  Our big shortage is in housing, trailer space, entertainment and recreation.  Here is where Concrete needs the facilities of the community betterment program, such is now being carried on in other small towns of the state.

Upper Baker Dam


This editorial doesn’t sound like a lot of planning had been done since the last time the editor said they needed to plan.  See CH 8/18/55 editorial.



XII.              River and Harbor Board Unfavorable Toward Flood Control Program

The Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors at its meeting on September 20, 1955, held in Washington, D.C., concurred in general in the unfavorable recommendations of the District Engineer, Seattle District, Seattle, Washington, and the Division Engineer, North Pacific Division, Portland, Oregon, regarding the advisability of Federal improvement of the Skagit River and Tributaries, Washington, in the interest of flood control.  The Board is of the opinion that the benefits to be derived by provision of local flood protection works are insufficient to justify construction of such works by the Federal Government at this time. Storage possibilities for flood control alone and in combination with hydroelectric power generation were also considered but none was found to be feasible for development by the Federal Government at this time.  The Board further finds that the degree of protection that would be provided by the Avon bypass authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1936 could be secured at less cost by improving the existing levee system but that such improvement cannot be justified at this time. No action has been taken to provide the required local cooperation for the authorized project and no work has been done. The Board, therefore, recommends that the existing project for flood control of Skagit River be abandoned.



Corps of Engineers turns down Skagit County for flood control.  “No action has been taken to provide the required local cooperation for the authorized project and no work has been done.”



XIII.              PSP&L Applies For License To Construct $27 Million Plant

Application to the Federal Power Commission for a license to build an 85,000-kilowatt hydro-electric on the Upper Baker River at an estimated cost of more than $27 million was announced today by Frank McLaughlin, president of Puget Sound Power & Light Company.  The proposed dam, some 300 feet high, would be located about eight miles above the Company’s present Baker River project and would impound about 238,000 acre-feet of water in a reservoir nine miles, thus providing greater control of the Baker River flow. This will permit another 55,000 kilowatts of added capacity to be installed at the present Lower Baker plant. The two projects will total 140,000 kilowatts of new generation, at an estimated cost of $35 million.





No mention of flood control.



Crest in Skagit River Passes; Nokkachamps Valley Flooded – High Water Follows 2 Rainy Days

. . .  The county engineer’s office reported that the crest of the flash flood was reached at 7 a.m. with a gauge reading of 23.7 feet. It rose to that level from a low of nine feet Monday morning. . . .  The high water gauge reading hit Concrete at 7 p.m. yesterday and was 35.17 feet. . . .  Some reports of flooding over the dikes in the lower valley were received, but again no one reported serious loss. . . .  Nookachamps Valley residents were commuting by boat this morning. Superior Judge A. H. Ward said by telephone that about 200 of his 230 acres was under water, but that all his cattle were safe, as were those of his neighbors. . . .  For those interested in the pure statistics Whitnall revealed that this flood closely paralleled that of 1949 in its quick rise but was much less severe than the 1951 inundation which hit a high mark of over 25 feet at Mount Vernon. At its peak this morning there were 87,000 cubic feet of water a second passing by the revetment. In 1951 there were 140,000 cubic feet of water per second . . .



USGS 84,900 cfs, 30.69 Mt. Vernon


35.17 Concrete gage according to article.


“Some reports of flooding over the dikes in the lower valley were received “ on just a 30 foot river?


87,000 cfs reported at Mt. Vernon



Flood Highlights

Riches instead of nature’s wrath is often brought to the Nookachamps Valley by high water, County Agent Homer K. Rowley said this morning. “The flooding of the valley leaves behind a rich soil containing potash which fertilizes the ground,” Rowley explained.

Flood Water Good For Farmland


See articles on 1906 flooding.  They said the same thing.



Flood Breaks Dike—2000 Acres Underwater

Dike Breaks to Flood Fir Island


Considerable loss of crops, some damage to property but no loss of lives and questionable loss of live stock seems to sum up the high water and flood situation this morning.  Break At Lundeen’s—A break in the dike on Freshwater slough near the Lundeen farm southwest of the Fir-Conway bridge plunged about 2,000 acres of farm land under water Wednesday afternoon.  Although the dike was being patrolled at the time, the break came suddenly and the dike seemed to “fall in” all at once over a 75-foot width.  . . .  The dike caved in a little after noon with the water still two or three feet below dike level.  River Going Down—Local river reading reached 23.7 and top reading at Concrete was 35.17.  The crest was reached at 7 a.m. Wednesday and held fairly steady for several hours.  Some Damage—high waters in the Nookachamps area had been anticipated and there seems to be little damage there.  . . .  Rains caused the rapid rise.  It was reported that a 4.36 inch rain fell within 24 hours at Diablo. 

October 26, 1955 Flood Event



No reading was provided by USGS for this flood event at Concrete but article says 35.17 observed which would be about 115,000 cfs.  Mt. Vernon is reported by USGS to have been 30.69 or 84,900 cfs.






4.36 inches of rain at Reflector Bar in 24 hours.



Chinook Brings Fast Flood Crest

The Skagit river made one of its quickest rises to flood stage Tuesday morning after continued rain and warm Chinook wind combined to bring the stream to flood stage in a matter of a few hours.  The warm wind began late Monday evening late, followed by more heavy rain.  By Tuesday morning the river was running bank full and the Baker dam here was pouring water through all gates, unable to hold the sudden run-off on the upper Baker valley.  No special damage was reported from the flood waters, except that the highway was closed for a time at Hamilton and on the South Skagit highway below the Dalles.    The river gauge at the Dalles was checked at 35 feet at the high point of the flood.  Most unusual was the huge quantities of drift dislodged in the sudden rise.  The logs and debris swept from old jams and piled up in new ones all the way down the river.  Jams at the bridges along the river were unprecedented.    A dike broke at Conway, flooding several hundred acres of farm land there.

October 26, 1955 Flood Event


USGS Concrete figures not available.  Mt. Vernon 30.69, 84,900 cfs.


Newspaper reported 35 feet at The Dalles which would be around 115,000 cfs.  See Historic Flood Flows for records of all floods in Skagit County.



Engineers May Blast Salt Water Dike at Fir Island – District Flooded

Plans to dynamite the salt water dike at Fir island were being made this morning by the Skagit County engineer’s office if the flood waters which ripped a 150-foot hole through the Fresh Water Slough dike yesterday do not slack off. The dike broke on the slough at a point about a mile and a half south of the Conway bridge at 1:30 p.m.. . . .  The county engineers and area farmers estimated that at least 2,000 acres have been covered with over a foot of water even though the flood-swollen Skagit River had dropped from a high point of 23.7 feet yesterday to 18.5 feet at 10:30 this morning at Mount Vernon. The salt water dike which protects the low-lying farm land from the waters of Puget Sound was acting as a dam bottling up the District No. 2 and the county engineers were considering blasting that barrier to provide an outlet. . . .  Farmer Bill Brown, who has gone through this before in ‘32, said the flood has “picked” his ten acres of broccoli. He and his wife Alice cleaned out their basement when they saw the water coming. . . .  An on-the-spot inspection of the ruptured dike was made by assistant county engineer H. O. Strombom and Gregory M. Hastings, supervisor of the state department of Conservation and Development. “I’d estimate that there is a half a million gallons of water a minute coming through right now,” he said at 5 p.m. last night “This has been a real eye-opener for me and I intend to declare this area eligible for emergency funds from the state flood control maintenance fund.” Assistant County Engineer W.R. Whitnall noted somewhat wryly that a rabbit or gopher hole at the base of the earth dike probably was the flaw that weakened the dike for the flood waters.

Fir Island Levee Breaks After Flood Waters Dropped 5 feet


Dike break blamed on rabbits or gophers.  I’d like to know the last time a gopher was sited in Skagit County.  In that location it was more likely then not a river otter or a beaver.





27-Ft River Due by 8 a.m. Friday

The Skagit river may go as high as 27 feet by 8 a.m. Friday morning is the prediction of the weather department according to an announcement by the engineer’s office today at noon.  The river was at the 18.7 mark at noon and rising.  The break at Conway has been closed but high tide will come at the crest of the rise it is said.  Highest point reached in 1951 was 28.2.  The county engineer’s office reported that a careful watch will be kept but that there is no so-called “weak point” in the dike system.  They are most concerned with the break last week at Lundeen’s farm, especially as the tide may (be) coming in at the crest.

November 4, 1955 flood event.


USGS records say flood reached 106,000 cfs at Concrete or 34.48 and 107,000 cfs at Mt. Vernon or 33.52.




Rains Bring High River

Heavy rains Wednesday and all night long stopped abruptly this morning, then the weather changed to a Chinook wind.  Old timers immediately began drawing a parallel with past November floods and are predicting that this November will be another one for the books.  The Skagit began rising during the night and by 1:00 today the gauge at the Dalles read 31.55 and still rising.  The water reached a high point of 35.7 last week before receding.    All dams in the valley have been holding back all water possible, but now can only wait until the river flow drops enough to permit timed use of top gates to ease the strain on the main flow below Concrete.

November 4, 1955 Flood Event


USGS Concrete 34.48, 113,000 cfs.; Mt. Vernon 33.52, 107,000 cfs.


Newspaper says at The Dalles the river reached 35.7 during the October 26, 1955 flood event.



Level of Skagit River Goes Up After 4-Inch Rain Hits Area – Crest May Come Tomorrow Morning

. . .  The river forecast center in Portland predicted this forenoon that the Skagit River will crest at 27 feet at Mount Vernon by 8 a.m. Friday. . . .  Whitnall explained that an electronic brain machine at the river forecast center in Portland takes all available information on river level, snow, and rainfall and compares it against past records, then gives the prediction. At 9 a.m. this morning the river at Concrete had reached a gauge reading of 29.17 feet and was rising at the rate of a foot an hour. The flood last week reached its high mark at 35 feet there. A high mark of around 37 or 38 feet is expected at Concrete tonight by 6 o’clock. . . .  In the 24 hour period ending at 8 a.m. the weather bureau reported that 4.03 inches of rain fell at Diablo Dam. 3.68 inches at Darrington, and 3.85 inches at Marblemount. The Northwestern Washington Experiment Station reported that yesterday’s rainfall of 1.71 inches in the Skagit Valley was the highest amount in a 24-hour period since records were started in July, 1949. The freezing level was at 9,000 feet this morning. “The dike at Mount Vernon withstood 28.2 feet in 1951, but it was right up to the top and lapping over. We should still have a foot or two to spare at tomorrow morning’s peak.” commented engineer Whitnall.

4 Inches Of Rain Fell At Diablo In 24 Hours




Highest amount of rain in 24 hours in Mt. Vernon (1.71 inches) since records started being kept (1949).


Floodwaters lapping over top of Mt. Vernon dike.


Fir Island still underwater from October 27th break.



Sandbaggers Hold Own -Critical Period Due In This Afternoon

. . .  With the Skagit River due to crest at 25.5 feet in Mount Vernon shortly after noon today there was still no immediate relief in sight. Associate County Engineer W. R. Whitnall figures that the crest will be of long duration, further weakening the already water-saturated dikes. . . .  And the weather bureau’s electronic brain in Portland had re-figured the expected Skagit crest and lowered its forecast from the 27 feet at Mount Vernon which it originally had predicted for this morning. However, both Seattle City Light’s Ross Dam and Puget Sound Power and Light’s Baker River Dam were holding back enough water to cut the crest 1.5 feet. Ross Dam was purchasing power from the Bonneville Power Administration to supply its lines. Stream flow at the dam was reported to be something on the order of a small creek. . . .  The most critical point was at Ted Lundeen’s Fresh Water Slough dike, which broke during the flood last week. Some 12,000 sandbags had been placed on top of the dirt fill to keep the rising water back. . . .  Earlier this morning there was a break though at Fisher’s Slough, two miles south of Conway. Crews from the county engineer’s department and volunteers stopped the break in time. Farm families in the Nookachamps Valley took their stock out yesterday morning and afternoon as the waters crept upwards. The Nookachamps road was closed this morning as was the old Mount VernonClear Lake road. . . .  River water was reported in the Hamilton School yard after that community had been isolated when a culvert on the last access road was washed out.



USGS 106,000 cfs, 34.48 Concrete; 113,000 cfs Sedro Woolley; 107,000 cfs, 33.52 Mt. Vernon


Lower Baker and Ross Dam held back water.



Skagit Hits Crest; Some Flood Danger Persists Over Lowlands – High Waters Begin To Recede Slowly

. . .  The river reached its peak in the Skagit Valley at 5 p.m. yesterday at 25.7 feet at Mount Vernon. Unlike the flood of a week ago the river did not start to drop quickly, but stayed up over 25 feet until 1 a.m. this morning. At 9 a.m. this morning it was 24.7 feet. . . .  Associate County Engineer Jack E. Frets put it this way: “Once the river drops to 20 feet we should be fairly safe, but even then a major break in any of the dikes could flood a lot of farm land. A 12-foot tide will start going out a noon and things should be a little better after that, but we probably won’t be able to breathe easily until 8 tonight.” The tide at the mouth of the Skagit acts as a dam against the outflow of the flood river, slowing down the flow of water as it passes the patched up Fresh Water Slough dike break near Ted Lundeen’s home on Fir Island. The reason for the long crest of the river is that the main tributaries of the Skagit, such as the Sauk, Cascade, and Baker rivers, reached their peaks at different times, thereby keeping the Skagit up. A high point of 34.5 feet was hit at Concrete Thursday at 10 p.m. The readings at Concrete then began to drop but as the offshoots of the Skagit reached their high marks the level came back up to 33.74 yesterday at 1 p.m. . . .  A group of 90 sailors was at the Fresh Water slough through the night while 30 more were plugging a threatening break at Fisher’s Slough, about 3½ miles above Conway. The Great Northern Railway sent up a crew of 40 from Seattle with a load of rock to re-ballast the roadbed near the South Fork which had high water seeping through it. . . .  The dredge from Seattle, hired by Dike District Two officials for repair work, was still tied up at Whidbey Island, unable to cross the channel in the rough water. Very little erosion was reported on the Burlington Dike and the Lyman-Hamilton detour was back in service after being washed out Thursday.

12 Foot Tide Slows Flood Waters


25.7 downtown Mt. Vernon gage. 33.5 new gage.




The tide at the mouth of the Skagit acts as a dam against the outflow of the flood river, slowing down the flow of water…



Flood Loses Held Down By Unsung Heroes

The break at Freshwater Slough has been rebuilt with the dike set back on the Lundeen land.  The state is cooperating with the dike district in putting in 1,500 feet of new dike but not all will be done now.  State money is expected t pay for 40 percent of the cost.  Roads Escape Damage—Hardly any damage was done to roads although several bridges upriver didn’t come through unmarked.

November 4, 1955 flood event.

Evidently not a very serious flood event. 


First setback levee in Skagit County?



XIV.             New Dike Withstands 8-Foot Wall Of Water During Last Weeks Flood

Local officials, particularly the members of the dike commission, are very happy over the way the new dike withstood the recent battering of flood water. According to Robert Schroeder, dike commissioner, the dike withstood an eight foot wall of water in most places and although a few places were roughed up slightly and sluffed off there was no apparent damage to the dike itself.  . . .  Previous to and during the flood conditions considerable comment was heard concerning the removal of the old dike. Some people were very indignant over its removal. But these same people can now be assured that it was a good and sensible plan.  . . .  First, if they will only take the time and trouble to go out, now that the waters have receded, and see what good condition the new dike is in they will see that there is better protection than the old dike ever gave, even when new.  Secondly, had that new dike broke an the old dike remained in place, people and property between the two would suffered much heavier loss than they would have with the old one removed because the water would have been that much deeper.  Thirdly, the dike commission saved the taxpayers, according to Schroeder, considerable money by using dirt from the old dike. Had they had to buy dirt and possibly haul it a considerable greater distance, the cost would have been several thousand dollars more than the plan used.

November 5, 1955 Flood


USGS level 33.5 at new gage.  107,000 cfs



Editorial—We May Have To Modify Our Defenses Against Floods

The raging old Skagit (Wildcat in Indian language) has cooled down and now flows meekly along as if nothing ever disturbed it or ever will again.  But the Old-timers know better.  . . .  Seems to us we will have to alter our plans but no doubt engineers are aware of this.  Higher and stronger dikes and dredged channels no doubt are the answers.  Sometimes modern conditions are not all they are cracked up to be.  At least when they come to greater threats that were not so serious in the old days.

Skagit means “Wildcat”?


Dredging and Dikes



dam aids in holding back recent flood water

Ross Dam again helped reduce flood damage in the lower Skagit Valley during the high water recently by holding back 66,000 acre feet of water.  The flow of water was reduced Monday, October 24 and completely shut off the following day until 5:00 p.m. to reduce the flood waters.  The shut down cost City Light about $11,000 in electricity that had to be purchased from Bonneville and Tacoma City Light.

Ross Dam Completely Shut Off



Dike Funds Hit $17,445

State tax money totaling $17,445.20 will be spent by the Department of Conservation and Development in the rip-rapping of a salt water dike and two Skagit River dikes in the county whose final cost will total $43,613. George R. Thompson, assistant director of the department, notified State Sen. Paul N. Luvera of Anacortes today that the state will pay $2,965.20 of the $7,413 cost of having two rock revetments built on the Skagit River near Burlington. The Wilder Construction Company completed the job last week at both the new and old Darigold intakes. Dike District No. 12 and the county river fund will pay the remaining 60 per cent of the job.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects



$7,000 Provided – State’s Funds Aid River Job

The state will participate in the cost of a riprapping project on Fir Island on the north fork of the Skagit River. . . .  Rock for the job is being taken from the Fir Island quarry and is being placed on the river bank on the west side of Fir Island in Dike District No. 13. Walberg said the state is paying 40 percent of the cost while the county and dike district each pay 30 per cent. This, he added, is the normal arrangement for such projects. . . .  Walberg said the county this past weekend accepted as complete another riprapping job on the Skagit River in Dike District No. 12 near Burlington.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects



Flood Control, Navigation of Skagit to Be Studied

An emergency meeting of the Skagit County Flood Control Council has been called for Friday at 1:30 p.m. . . . to discuss feasibility of cutting a new channel at the mouth of the Skagit River.  Supporters of the proposal claim that a new channel at the North Fork of the river substantially would control flooding in the Skagit flat area and open the river to navigation.  . . .  Hughes pointed out that the new channel could be dredged in a westerly direction, taking of from Valentine’s Bend, across state owned land and tidal flats, and arriving at deep water, after covering a distance of about four miles.  . . .  County Engineer H.O. Walberg…revealed that the water level was as high at the North Fork bridge during the November 3,4, and 5 flood threat as it was during the more severe 1951 flood.  Silting at the present mouth was one of the factors which accounted for this.  . . .  According to Asst County Engineer Harold Strombom, 147,000 cfs of water rolled down the river in 1951 high water as compared to the lesser figure of 110,000 cfs in last Novembers danger period.

Cutting a New Channel at Mouth of River






Dredge a new channel.


Could this be because there weren’t any levee breaks in the last November flood?



Panel Named to Seek Federal, State Help for River Channel – Increased Traffic Sought

Old man river, stay away from my door. That was the theme of yesterday’s meeting of the Skagit County Flood Control Council in the Skagit County Courthouse. Over 50 persons, including representatives from 11 diking districts in Skagit County, were packed into the small courtroom to discuss the possibility of creating a new channel for the mouth of the silt – choked north fork of the Skagit River. Up-shot of the hour and a half meeting was a unanimous resolution by the council to support an emergency program with state and federal powers to dredge the new channel. . . .  A proposal to cut the new channel from Valentine’s Bend proceeding westerly past Bald Island to deep water was the main topic of discussion. . . .  “We used to be able to enter drawing 5 feet 8 inches. Now we can’t get into the river drawing 5 feet,” Captain Spencer commented. LaConner area farmer Jim Hulbert said that the effect of the heavy silting was to raise the level of the mouth of the river which then backed the water upriver endangering low-lying farmland. . . .  Chairman Hanson noted that the water level at the river’s mouth during the Nov. 3-5 flood was as high with a 25-foot level at Mount Vernon as it was in the more serious flood in 1951 when the Mount Vernon reading was 28 feet. . . .  Several of those at the meeting noted that the same idea had been proposed to the Army Corps of Engineers after the 1951 flood. “If we are going to get anything done we have got to be of one mind and get on the ball and get this thing rolling,” said County Commissioner Lowell Hughes, who is a Fir Island farmer himself.

Dredging Mouth of River Proposed



Editorial—Its Up To Flood Council To Spur Engineers Into Action


Since the first white men settled in the Skagit Valley there has hardly been a more irritating or time-consuming problem than flood control.  The river, aptly named Skagit by the Indians, goes on a rampage now and then and in so doing often provides materials that practically choke the stream, thereby setting up the stage for further floods.  . . .  We are indeed fortunate to have on that Control Council men who understand the situation—men like Earl Hanson, Lowell Hughes, Nobel Lee, Leo Beckley, Jim Dunlap, Dan Sundquist and Charles Christenson.  County Engineer HO Walberg will be adviser to the Council.  . . .  We no longer have the great forests that sop up rain waters and let them seep out slowly.  We still have a great expanse of rainshed, regardless of the fact that dams do some good in holding back excessive water.







Names of committee members.



Logging recognized as impacting floods.


Dams recognized as helping during floods.



Skagit’ Again used for name

            “Skagit” may seem new to the present generation of Mt. Vernon daily newspaper readers as part of the name of  their publication, but actually the usage dates back 71 years.              The original predecessor of the Skagit Valley Herald was The Skagit News, a weekly established in Mount Vernon on March 4, 1884, by William C. Ewing, who announced, “This paper was due a good while ago . . .”

History of the Skagit Valley Herald



Steady Rains Fail To Cause Flood Threat

. . .  The gauge reading at Mount Vernon at 11 a.m. this morning was 10.7 feet, about a feet higher than the reading taken 24 hours previously. . . .  The gauge reading at the Dalles station on the Skagit River near Concrete at 7 a.m. this morning was 18.14 and rising. Observers for the power station said, however, that most of the water is surface runoff and would not prove dangerous unless the temperature rose and snow began to melt.

Flood Scare


Flood never materialized. 



Hanson Reports Emergency “Out” On New Channel

Other Aspects Encouraging To Committee of 8

Hanson said that Col. Mathius told the committee that the matter could not be handled as an emergency measure but must get necessary and direct appropriation from Congress for the survey and, if approved, money for the actual work of forming the channel to salt water.



Corps had to study it first.



River Group Awaits Information By Army In Planning New Move

The answer was no, but they’re not done yet.  Such was the feeling yesterday of the eight men from Skagit County as they left the Seattle District Army Engineers headquarters in Seattle after having their proposal to declare an emergency to have a new channel  in the mouth of the Skagit River turned down.  . . .  Gives Resolution  Hughes presented resolutions from the 11 dike districts in Skagit County to Col. Norman A. Matthias asking that the work be done in order to provide a faster runoff of the Skagit’s water and lower the river level by a foot more.  “You can’t realize how important the difference of a few inches on the dikes during a flood mean to us,” commented Hughes.  Members of the colonel’s staff pointed out that their studies showed that the river bottom of the Skagit has remained more or less stable in the past 18 years.    . . .  Funds Sought  . . .  George Kurttilla, civil engineer for the Army in the planning section for navigation projects, pointed out that their office has a report on flood control and navigation made on the Skagit now in Washington D.C. before the Chief of Engineers.  He said action is expected on the report in the next two years.  . . .  Kurttilla said that some of the main recommendations in the report were for extension and raising of the dikes from Burlington down to the mouth of the river.  Agree to Study  In addition to this information, the Army Engineer agreed to have his staff make a comparative study of 1937 soundings of the river and the tide flats as against those taken in July, 1955, and forward the report to the Skagit County engineer, H.O. Walberg, next week.

Corps Says No To Declaration Of An Emergency To Have River Dredged


Corps study says river bottom hadn’t changed in 18 years.



State Agrees To Help Pay for Dike Job

The State Department of Conservation and Development announced today that the state will pay 40 per cent of the cost of a$14,800 rip-rapping job on the Skagit River opposite the north city limits of Mount Vernon. . . .  The Skagit County engineer’s office located the job as being between the old Skagit River bridge and the new span now under construction. The north bank of the river will be rocked between these two structures for a length of 1,600 lineal feet. “This is a project that Dike District No. 12 has asked for because of the high velocity of the river which is tearing the bank away at that point.” Assistant County Engineer H. C. Strombom explained.

Rip-Rap Dike Projects



Senator Jackson Drafting Bill To Allow River Mouth Work – Lawmakers To Seek Plan for Engineers To Speed Projects

The drafting of federal legislation which would release U.S. funds for the deepening of the mouth of the Skagit River for flood control and navigation purposes has been disclosed in Washington, D.C. . . .  Senator Jackson said he is drafting legislation which would authorize the Army Engineers to undertake flood control projects costing $500,000 or less which they determine to be justifiable. . . .  The Senator pointed out that he and Itschner agreed that no work could be accomplished without new legislation. . . .  Jackson writes: “My purpose in sponsoring the new legislation will be to eliminate the procedural bottleneck which now prevents work on small but vitally needed flood control measures. Passage of this legislation by the Congress will provide the means by which federal assistance for flood control on the Skagit – now apparently hopeless – can be gained.”

Dredging Mouth Of River Proposed


See 8/8/55 MVDH article.



log jam removal helps city grow

Strange are the quirks that sometimes dictate the destines of a town or a region.  Consider the Skagit Valley, where the removal of old log jams from the Skagit River hastened the death of one town and undoubtedly contributed much to growth of the thriving modern community of Mount Vernon.  The huge log barriers from time immemorial had blocked the river and affected early fortunes of the valley after the white man’s arrival.  Had it not been for the initiative and perseverance of pioneer settlers, who bent to the almost insurmountable task of eliminating the jams, the demise of Skagit City, then the area’s principal town, would have been postponed, and Mount Vernon might not have become the sizable city it is today.

Log Jams



upper valley sportsmen to battle closures of skagit river

Sportsmen of the upper valley, long tired of being deprived of fishing rights in the Skagit river while the same rights are returned to pressure groups in the lower valley, are going to make a fight on the latest ruling of the game department to close the Skagit to steelhead fishing from May 20th to July 1st.

Fish Issue



freezing of ground is part of unique method of construction

Above is an artist’s sketch of Seattle City Light’s Gorge Dam now under construction at its Skagit Hydroelectric Project.  The dam, to be located on the Skagit River two miles above the Gorge powerhouse, will be a concrete structure approximately 670 feet long and 285 feet high.  It is being built by Merritt-Chapman and Scott Corporation of New York and the Savin Construction Corporation of East Hartfod, Connecticut, a joint venture who obtained the contract on their low bid of $14,731,107.  . . .   A unique feature in the construction is the freezing of an ice barrier in the river-fill material down to bedrock to keep upstream groundwater from flowing into the excavation.  The ice wall will be approximately 4 feet thick and reach a depth of about 240 feet.

Gorge Dam

(Picture available)


Dam 285 feet high, cost almost $15,000,000.  The dam was scheduled for completion in early 1959.



River Vessel To Continue Skagit Trips

The stern-wheeler river boat, the Skagit Chief, will continue to ply the waters of the Skagit River indefinitely, according to word received today by the Skagit County commissioners.  . . .  It was brought out at that meeting that lowering the height of the fixed-span bridge from 55 to 36 feet would reduce the cost of construction some $58,000.  However, it also was noted that the Skagit Chief and some types of pile drivers and dredges required a 55-foot clearance height in order to enter the river beneath the bridge.  H. E. Grimison of the river navigation company said in part in his letter: “It is our intention to indefinitely continue operating using our present equipment.  We might also point out that, even though we should switch to the use of barges at a future date, the height of the clearance would not be materially altered, inasmuch as the freight elevator on a barge would be approximately as high as our vessels.”

Stern-Wheeler Skagit Chief



first settlers begin moving into skagit

By John F. Conrad, Historian, Skagit County Pioneer Association


The first white person to see the shores of Skagit County is believed to have been Lt. Salvador Fidalgo of the Spanish Navy in 1790 on one of Spain’s claiming expeditions which had begun 20 years previously.  The English reached our county two years later in 1792 when Capt. George Vancouver made such a thorough exploration of the whole Sound area and contributed so many lasting names such as Puget, Baker, Rainier, Townsend, Bellingham and Whidbey.  . . .  March’s Point, where history is being made today by the oil industry, is reported by good authority to have been first settled in 1853 by Enoch Compton and John Carr on what later became Munks’ place.  But due to dangerous Indians they were forced to move to Whatcom where Carr died.  The Indian war came to a head with Compton enlisting.  Then in 1859 he returned to find William Bonner on his old place.  . . .  One mill man William Bonner, went to March’s Point in 1859 and settled on the place vacated by Compton and Carr five years earlier, then sold his rights the same year to William Munks for $60 and a silver watch.  Munks was the first postmaster at the post office called Fidalgo and is still credited with being the first permanent settler. 

Skagit County Pioneers



steelhead closure arguments reveal many-sided theories

…The up-river fishermen protested the closure in a widely circulated petition, urging that instead of closing the river to catching of the adult steelhead, a size limit be placed on the small steelhead fry that are caught in great numbers each spring as “trout”.  Mr. Pautkze explained in great detail the history of the steelhead run on the Skagit, what they were now doing in the way of planting a new run of the fish in the river and what their plans were for the future.  He explained that the partial closure of the river was in the nature of an “experiment”.


But when finally pinned down to any specific reason why the river above Grandy Creek to the Marblemount bridge had been singled out for the sole closure in the experiment, he could give no reason except: “Because we don’t want you to fish there.”

Witham Tells Steelhead Story

Ed Witham of Marblemount, who has lived on the Skagit all his life and is an ardent fisherman, was quick to take up the biologists challenge for someone to explain the cycle of the steelhead run.  Witham stated that the steelhead fry come out of the upper spawning areas as minnows during July, August and September, then disappear until the next July when they show up in great numbers as small trout from 4 to 6 inches in length.  After a month or so going upstream they again turn back down and in October appear again in sizes up to 9 inches long.  After that they go into the salt water for two years and return as adult fish.    Mr. Pautkze differed with Witham on the length of time the small fish are in the upper part of the river.  He said they moved down into the lower water quickly and did not return as small trout.  His opinion was that they spent their entire second year on the lower river.  In explaining the present experiments on the Skagit the biologist said that it had been the opinion of the department that the Skagit would never need plantings, but as the runs began to deplete from the changes made by dams, logging, etc.  It was discovered in 1934 that a definite dropping off was in process.  Through experiments on the Green River it was found that the Skagit was just not producing as many steelhead as its waters were capable of maintaining.  So the experiments began here.

Fish Issue—Steelhead


Fisheries Dept. knew in 1934 that steelhead were being diminished in numbers due to dams and logging.



Rock Strengthens Section of Dike

A 3,000 foot long section of dike on the east side of the Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Conway is now stronger by some 14,000 cubic yards of rock, the Skagit County engineer’s office reported today.  County Engineer H.O. Walberg said the rip-rapping job in Dike District Three headed by Daniel Sundquist was expected to be finished today.  Weymouth and Wheeler, Seattle contractors, did the work for Dike District No. 3 as part of the district and county’s continuing flood control program.

Dike District #3 Rip-Rap Project



Engineers Get Plans For North Fork Span

Skagit County has submitted for approval its plans for the new fixed bridge on the north fork of the Skagit River to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Seattle.  . . .  However, the colonel probably already is aware of possible objections as a result of a meeting held Feb. 14 in Mount Vernon to which interested parties were invited.  It was brought out then that certain river craft such as large dredges would not be able to clear the proposed bridge if it were built.  The site of the planned bridge is three-eights of a mile downstream of the existing highway bridge across the north fork of the Skagit, and the bridge, if built, will provide a minimum vertical clearance of 120 feet, normal to channel.  . . .  The application from Skagit County to the Army for permission to build the bridge, as required by the General Bridge Act of 1946, shows that the earlier suggestions to lower the height of the fixed span bridge to below 40 feet to save construction costs have been dropped.  . . .  Matthias said the decision as to whether or not the plans will be approved must rest primarily upon the effect the proposed work will have on navigation and/or flood control.

North Fork Bridge Plans



Large dredges would not be able to pass upriver.




test for fishway dam on baker

…Since building of the Baker dam here the transportation of the fish run over the dam has been done with a trap at the powerhouse and hauling the fish in a tank of water by cable from the trap to the top of the dam.  When the new Upper Baker Dam is built, the plan is to carry the fish by truck above both dams.  To make this possible a permanent fish trap dam would be constructed here somewhere between the two bridges.  The proposed dam would be a roof-like structure that would permit a ten-foot barrier to the fish going upstream.  A pool underneath would permit the fish to rest and then enter a trap at the east side of the river from where they could be loaded into tank trucks for the trip to Baker Lake.  Test drilling found no bedrock as far down as 40 feet, but this was not deemed important in the construction of the light structure.  All plans are tentative and will depend entirely on construction of the new dam.

Lower Baker Dam

Fish Issue


Once Upper Baker was built the “fish ladder” (See 7/15/26 C.H., 5/19/27 C.H.) was no longer in operation.



Will Start Skagit River Survey Soon

A telegram from Congressman Jack Westland this week stated that General Louis H. Foote, U.S. Army Engineers, Portland area, states that army engineers will be able to allot enough money to start the Skagit River survey this summer.  The full survey is estimated to cost $20,000 but only about one-fourth of this amount will be spent this year. The survey is to be made in the interest of flood control program in the Skagit valley.


Another Corps study.



Not Worried About Flood – Bulson Scoffs At Snow Pack

As the warm weather spreads throughout the Skagit Valley this week residents greeted it with mixed emotions – joy that Spring is arriving and fear that a heavy snow pack in the Cascade Mountains might melt rapidly and cause a sudden spring flood. To 88-year-old E. E. Bulson, a Skagit County pioneer, such fears, however, are not justified. “Only a strong, hot wind from the southwest will cause a really serious flood situation,” he says. “Otherwise I think we will make out all right.” . . .  He came to Skagit County in 1892 and has been farming off and on in the Conway area area since that time. He will be 89 on May 9. His memory reaches back some six decades when the Skagit River had few if any of the controls that it now had is dikes, revetments, and dams. “When you farmed on Fir Island in those days, the ground was always wet. It was so wet that we had to put ‘tooley shoes’ on the horses’ hooves to keep them from sinking into the mud. What are tooley shoes? Well, they were round pieces of board that were fastened to the hooves kind of like a snowshoe. When it was real wet down there we used to kid each other and say we had to put tooley shoes on our wives when they went outside,” Bulson recollected. . . .  He can remember the year that they had seven floods on Fir Island in the month of January. Then, too, there was the big flood in 1893 when the river became clogged with logs from Scorndal Slough for three solid miles backed up to Mann’s Landing. Bulson, a former “white water man” from Michigan where he worked on log jams on the White River near Muskegon was contacted by a “fellow name of Hanson for the Tacoma Boom Company to help break up that drift... we worked until the next spring with a donkey engine on a scow pulling logs out on that jam.” . . .  However, Bulson does believe that there would be less danger of a flood if certain improvements were made on the south fork of the Skagit. “All those old pilings should be taken out. They act like a dam and those jams in Steamboat Slough should be cleared out also,” Bulson. . . .    Engineer Walberg has spent many hours with the elderly gentleman recording historical facts about previously floods and high water marks in the county.

Heavy Snow Pack Doesn’t Worry Skagit Pioneer



E.E. Bulson came to Skagit County in 1892.


Ground was always wet on Fir Island.



Used “tooley shoes” on the horses to pull a plow.


One year they had 7 floods on Fir Island  in January.



Fish Runs Increased, Schoettler Declares

Salmon runs in Washington and British Columbia streams have been substantially increased after years of depletion, according to Robert J. Schoettler, director of the State Department of Fisheries. . . .  Rehabilitation on the other hand, he said, was the restoration and bringing back of the resource. In the case of the salmon that has been the reclaiming of lost spawning areas for the migrating fish and establishing new runs with hatchery plants. Dams, pollution and the loss of the forest cover are some of the main reasons which have closed streams to the spawning salmon. . . .  The Washington Fisheries Department embarked on a long range program of clearing streams, building fishladders, and restocking runs in the new spawning areas.

Fish Issue


Salmon runs increasing by reclaiming lost spawning areas and hatchery plants.


Runs depleted by dams, pollution and loss of forest cover.



XV.             Ross Lake Dam Holds Water Back

Ross lake is being kept at a reduced level in order to hold back some of the heavy runoff anticipated for the next few months, City Light Executive Assistant Superintendent John M. Nelson reported today.  Ross Reservoir on the upper Skagit River is down to about 100 feet below full level, providing a storage space of about 900,000 acre-feet of water.  Snow surveys made April 1 indicate that the runoff of the upper Skagit River will be the highest in 27 years for the period April 1 to August 31. The 900,000 acre-feet of storage space in Ross Reservoir represents about 1/3 of such runoff thus allowing a substantial amount of storage with which to reduce the discharge of the upper Skagit during the peak flows in the lower reaches of the river.



Ross Dam lowered 100 feet.



ross lake being held down as flood relief

Ross Lake is now being kept at a level about 100 feet below the full mark in order to hold back some of the heavy run-off expected from melting snow in the next few months.  Ass’t. Supt. John Nelson reports that the water level as held at present will provide the storage space for about 900,000 acre feet of water.  Snow surveys made April 1st showed that the run-off of the Skagit will be the highest in 27 years during the period from April 1st to August 31st.  The 900,000 acre-feet of storage space in the Ross reservoir represents about one-third of such a run-off, which allows a substantial amount of storage with which to hold back the flood peaks on the lower river. 

Ross Dam


Ross Lake lowered 100 feet to provide storage for flood run-off.



construction starts on upper baker dam project

“At long last” as royalty once put it, the announcement of the granting of the license for the new Baker River dam was made yesterday by the Federal Power Commission and the Puget Sound Power & Light Company.  The news was received rather calmly here due to the fact that it had been so long in the rumor stage and it’s receipt had been heralded the first of the week by the fact that a crew of men started work at the dam site.  . . .  This is the largest power development ever undertaken by the Puget Sound Power & Light Co.  The total cost is estimated to be $35 million dollars, part of which will be in installation of another generator at the present Baker power house in Concrete.  Specifications on the dam itself call for a structure 300 feet high and 200 feet wide at the base, to be constructed of concrete.  The dam will be 1,200 feet long and will have a 12 foot roadway across its top.  Behind the dam a reservoir over nine miles long and storing 980 billion gallons of water will be created.  North of the dam a 1,260 foot long dike 50 feet high will have to be constructed of earth and rock fill to maintain the lake level at dam height.

Upper Baker Dam


Cost now $35,000,000.  300 feet high and 200 feet wide at the base.  Will store 980 billion gallons of water.




Now that the upper Baker dam is a reality, the worrisome uncertainty of the future of the valley for the next few years is over.  In it’s place we have the worry of being able to keep pace.  The dam, itself, is just an item of the long list of new projects.  It will mean increased logging, a 350,000 barrel order for the cement plant and eventual unlimited possibilities in recreation facilities on the new lake.  Elsewhere in the valley the Gorge dam is yet to be completed and the Forest Service is contemplating opening a road into the rich timber above Diablo dam – such road to follow quite closely the route of the long-sought North Cross-State Highway.  After many years of waiting and talk the promise of the upper Skagit valley is beginning to come true.  As the pieces fall into place it will mean a complete revision of life as it has been.  A great deal of the charm of our valley has been its quiet roominess.  We’ve been discovered.  The settlers are moving in.

Charles Dwelley on Upper Baker Dam


“As the pieces fall into place it will mean a complete revision of life as it has been.  A great deal of the charm of our valley has been its quiet roominess.  We’ve been discovered.  The settlers are moving in.”




start on new dam

A request has been sent out from the Stone & Webster office for local people to list with them all spare rooms that may be rented, or anyone wishing to provide both room and board for one man or more. … Superior Portland Cement, Inc. will furnish half of the cement to be used in building the dam, the other half to be purchased from Olympic Portland Cement in Bellingham – making a fifty-fifty break between Skagit and Whatcom counties.  Some 700,000 barrels will be required during the job.    Most businesses are counting on the increased logging activity behind the dam to provide most of the local prosperity.

Upper Baker Dam


Housing was started for construction crews working on the Baker Dam.



stone and webster still on preliminary work

The big construction job on the new Baker Dam by Stone & Webster, is still in the stages of preparation of facilities to handle the men and equipment that will be required.  The local engineer’s building is now completed in the Puget Sound yard in East Concrete and a skeleton office crew is now busy there.  . . .  Mr. McKenney stated that there are now eighty men working on the dam site.  Of these six are carpenters and the rest are clearing land, doing road location, and clearing and burning of right of way.  The men are using a logging road north of Koma Kulshan guard station for the present to reach the site, which is about 1½ miles from the Baker Lake road.

Upper Baker Dam


At this point in time only the roads to the dam site were under construction.  Ultimately would hire as many as 1,500 workers.



skagit tops in steelhead runs

Final compilation of steelhead catches for the 1955-56 winter season show that the planting of migratory sized young steelhead in the Skagit River has produced a marked increase in the return of adult fish.  The catch for the season, as indicated on the punch cards, was 161,624 steelhead, which was topped only slightly by the record catch thus far of 162,663 in the 1953-54 winter season.  . . .  The whopping last seasons’ catch of 21,792 steelhead in the Skagit topped by a large margin all previous records and appears to be a direct result of the first migratory-sized release of steelhead in this stream.  From a catch of 16,170 fish in 1953-54, the Skagit dropped to 10,284 in 1954-55 as a result of the low water periods of 1952-53.  The 1955-56 catch of 21,792 fish was the first returning cycle of the migratory-sized fish, and lead all other streams in the state by a wide margin.  The Skagit is one of the perfect migratory streams, having extensive feeding areas in the many sloughs which make up its outlet to Puget Sound.  The limitation to the steelhead runs in the river has been the loss of valuable spawning and rearing areas in its feeder streams.

Fish Issue



Skagit River tops in state.  21,792 Steelhead caught by sports fishermen. 




city light facing choice of new dams

Delays in the construction work at the Gorge Dam above Newhalem is causing City Light a lot of headaches these days.  Faced with a need for additional power to handle the requirements of the expansion of Bethlemen Steel in Seattle, the power officials are desperately trying to work out a quick solution to problems facing the expansion of generating facilities on the upper Skagit.  The Gorge dam job is now a year behind schedule, due to the difficulty in solving a “leak” underground at the Gorge site. …

Thunder Creek Speeded

Long range plans call for use of Thunder Creek as a storage reservoir by use of a new dam.    At present Thunder Creek flows into Diablo Lake and is used for power there and at Gorge.  Three alternate plans have been proposed for better use of the flow.  No. 1 is to dam the stream, tunnel through the mountain and let the water go into Ross Lake for extra power all the way down to Newhalem.  No. 2 is to put a complete generating plant on Thunder Creek.    No. 3 is to dam Thunder and divert the water direct to Newhalem by tunnel.    If the dam at Ross is raised another 125 feet, as projected, the present decisions must take this into consideration.  As raising of Ross is up to Canada’s decision of whether or not they will permit territory there to be flooded, the problem of future expansion on the upper Skagit is now a tangle of conflicting ideas.

Seattle City Light Gorge and Thunder Creek Dams



Gorge Dam had a “leak”.  Thunder Creek looked at as possible site for new dam.  Raising Ross Dam another 125 feet up to Canada.



new city light dam will cover up evidence

Following our custom of getting old landmarks and bits of history down in black and white so that some record will be made for future years, a recent trip to Diablo found the old water wheel powerhouse of the old Davis ranch still standing and awaiting to be covered up by water of the new Gorge high dam.  The water wheel started as a pipe dream of Frank and Glee Davis back in the 1900’s and was first conceived as a method of powering a saw mill for cutting lumber in the inaccessible upper Skagit area.  Over the years the idea took shape and form, but it was not until 1921 that the project was completed.  Then it was found that the wheel failed to create enough power for cutting much timber, so in 1925 the men installed a 1½ h.p. generator and the mill wheel went into the power business as the upper Skagit’s first permanent hydro-electric installation.  The water powered generator furnished lights for the Davis homestead for several years until the place was sold to make way for City Light.

Gorge Dam

Davis Ranch


First permanent hydro-electric power generator in Skagit County was built by early settlers.



upper baker dam project now rising from bedrock

An ironic situation has developed on the Upper Baker River dam project the past week as lay-offs were necessary due to lack of cement – and the local cement plant is still closed by strike with its storage bins full of the precious commodity.  However, work continues at the dam and during the month of September the employment averaged about 850.  Highest total workers on the project, including subcontracts, during the past year was 1,004.  The pouring of concrete has been under way on four of the 25 blocks, or sections, of the dam.  Block nine, which is the farthest along, covers an area 50 feet by 200 feet and now stands 50 feet high.  The dam when completed will stand 300 feet high, 1,200 feet across and 200 feet wide at the base.

Upper Baker Dam


Lack of Concrete held up construction.  Hired over 1,000 construction workers.



XVI.           House Will Be Moved Making Way For Dike

HOUSE WILL BE MOVED- The residence of the Harold Halvorson family will be moved the make way for the construction of the new dike. The house sits on a rise and has been flooded only once since the Halvorsons took up residence there in 1939. The surface of the river can be seen behind the house.  Plans are underway for the construction and extension of the river dike this coming spring. The Sterling Development Area has requested that they become part of District Twelve and that the State will assist with funds for the dike construction. Between 400 and 600 acres are involved in the new area.  The make way for the new dike, Harold Halvorson’s house, machine shed and garage will be moved. The Halvorsons plan to move their home back from the river, but will not make the move until March at the earliest. At one low spot on the Halvorson property, the dike will have to be 10 or 12 feet deep, while at other parts a minimum of 5 feet will suffice.  When asked how they felt about moving their house, Mrs. Halvorson answered, “We’re for the dike! Naturally we don’t like to move the house, but we want to do what’s best.”



Halvorson house to be moved for new dike in Sterling.



Meeting Sought By Council On State Flood Control Funds

Mount Vernon City Engineer Denny LeGro was asked by city council members last night to attempt to arrange a meeting with Gregory Hastings of the Washington State Department of Conservation and Development to discuss the possible availability of state flood control funds to assist in the financing of the proposed dam on Maddox Creek. THE DAM is part of a city-advanced plan for the draining of storm water from the proposed south hill area storm sewer local improvement district – and from the area south and east of the city limits – into Maddox. . . .  LeGro explained that the county board has consistently maintained that “the county should not be involved in the drainage business.”

Maddox Creek Dam Proposed in Mt. Vernon



XVII.         Dike Construction Will Continue

The two new projects include the addition of another 1,000 feet of extended dike work west of the new highway and another 400 feet west of the old highway. These two new projects will supplement the work already done along the river. Projects already completed include an added 3,000 feet of dike west of the new highway and approximately 2,500 feet north of Carl Johnson’s farm.  The dike was raised 29 inches from in back of the Mapes farm to the Great Northern bridge 14,000 yards of dirt was used to widen and raise the dike.

            While members of District twelve continues their efforts and plans, their counterparts in District 17 across the river are also busy. Don Bordner of District 17 reports that their district has completed another $60,000 worth of construction work along their side of the river. $10,000 was used for the fill dirt and $50,000 went for the rocks used. Next year the district hopes to extend their project to the Great Northern Bridge. Plans now call for the planting of greens along the dike, Bordner says this will add to both the scenic beauty and the stability of the dike itself.



1,000 FT extension to 3,000 ft new dike.



Dike raised 29 inches.





Dike 17 new fill and rip-rap.




city light hires rainmakers

City Light has announced that Seattle City Light, in an effort to cut down on its power purchases, has signed a rain-making contract with the Water Resources Development Corporation of Denver, Colorado.  The contract extends from now to the end of August.    Past experience of the Water Resources Development Corporation, shows that their operations have increased rainfall 10 to 20%.    The activities will be centered back of Ross Dam so that any additional rainfall will drain into Ross Lake where it can be stored.

Seattle City Light Hires Cloud Seeders


And of course we all know that the clouds would just stay behind Ross Dam.



photo feature – baker fish dam works well on sockeye run

A good run of Sockeye salmon is giving the new fish trap installation on the Baker river here a through testing as to efficiency.  The trap was put into use a few weeks ago and since that time has done very well in providing a method of getting the salmon to the spawning grounds on the upper Baker.  To date the number of Sockeye taken in the trap and transported by truck to Baker Lake has been more than double the entire run of last year.  The low dam, which is located just below the highway bridge on the Baker at Concrete, seems to be low enough for the salmon to jump but the construction has been such that the overflow strikes an obstruction of large rocks on the lower side that produce such a turbulence that the fish can not get a chance to jump.  For further protection against the fish getting above the dam in periods of high water in the Skagit, the low dam can be raised about two feet mechanically to provide the extra height.

Lower Baker Dam

Fish Issue


The new “fish trap dam” seemed to be working very well.



skagit drips from top rank in steelhead catch

The Skagit River, due to weather conditions and the presence of above normal silt in the water from the Sauk River, dropped from first place as a steelhead stream for the state of Washington this year.  For the past two seasons the Skagit has topped all other streams in the number of fish produced, the 1955-1956 season producing 21,942 fish for the highest peak.  This past season the Skagit only produced 10,764 steelhead.  Tops for the state was the Humptulips river which found 11,404 as the total catch.  In second place was the Green river with 11,381.  The Humptulips came up this year from fifth place due to a big hatchery plant made in the spring of 1956.

Steelhead Fish Issue


Silt from Sauk River blamed for decrease in Steelhead run.



city light problem of border flooding studied

The International Joint Commission, which passes on disputes along the United States-Canadian border has agreed to take under consideration the proposal of City Light to flood some 6,000 acres of land across the Canadian border when Ross Dam is raised to extra height.  An agreement was made in 1942 with British Columbia provincial officials to pay $255,508 for the flooding.  Later, however, the Canadian authorities decided there should be additional payment in the form of electric power.  Issue was reviewed Wednesday in Ottawa.  Final decision will be made by the Commission after a study. 

Ross Dam Flooding Canada


6,000 additional acres of land to be flooded in Canada if Ross raised.




baker hatchery building to go on auction block

The old bunkhouse of the Baker Lake Fish Hatchery will be up for sale next week when the forest service puts the building on the auction block to remove it from the site to make way for waters of the new Baker Lake.  The sale of the building will just about mark the end of the pioneer hatchery site.  The building is the last of several that served the crew that operated the hatchery that was first started in 1896 and reached its heyday in 1924.  Then the construction of the lower Baker dam so diminished the salmon run that by 1933 the hatchery was out of business.  Most of its time in operation the hatchery could only be reached by trail and the buildings were constructed from timber on the site, sawed in a saw mill that had been packed over the trail from Concrete.

Baker Lake Hatchery


1896 to 1933.  Only be reached by trail.  “…the construction of the lower Baker dam so diminished the salmon run that by 1933 the hatchery was out of business.”



upper baker dam nearing completion

Two unprecedented open winters have paid off handsomely for the Stone & Webster Engineering Corporation now at work completing the Upper Baker River Dam for Puget Sound Power & Light Co.  Work is far ahead of schedule, as the above photo shows.  According to records, 515,000 cubic yards of cement had been poured at the time of this picture a week ago, leaving only 125,000 yet to be poured to bring the dam to full height.  . . .  By September the contractors expect to have most of their job cleaned up and the dam ready to begin turning out an additional 158,000 kilowatts of new power for the company.  The dam will be 300 feet high, 1,200 feet across and some 200 feet wide at the base.  The weight has been estimated at 1,200,000 tons.

Upper Baker Dam


Dam almost done.  515,000 cu yds cement already poured.  Only 125,000 cu yds left to go.



skagit slated to be best steelhead stream in u.s.

Prospects for steelheading on the Skagit River in future years were looking up considerably last week as a big truck from Tukal Creek hatchery, near Snoqualmie, made several trips here to plant 65,000 young steelhead.  First plants were made on the upper part of the Skagit, with two made in the vicinity of Concrete.  In the picture above, Don Gibson is holding the nose as the tank sprays out 12,000 of the lively fish at the bar on the upper side of the mouth of the Baker.  Another 12,000 were planted on Friday at the big eddy just above the Ovenell place on the South Skagit road.

Steelhead Fish Issue


77,000 Steelhead planted in Skagit River system.



drop plug

The Baker River will go to work at the Upper Baker Dam this afternoon at 2:00 P.M.  This is the hour set for “dropping the plug” that will close off the flow of the river beneath the huge structure.  Water has been diverted through a spillway since construction was started.  All that remains to be done for final completion is to close the entrance to the spillway and pour the gap full of concrete.  A rather formal occasion is being worked up for the ceremony with engineers and power company officials gathering here to see the Baker River harnessed once again.  The lake will start filling immediately, but will not reach it’s full height until some time in the fall.  As soon as the water has reached sufficient height, a test will be made of the new generator and power house below the dam. 

Upper Baker Dam


The lake will start filling immediately, but will not reach it’s full height until some time in the fall.   



new baker lake is forming

There was no actual ceremony, no speeches or flag waving, but a large number of visitors crowded the observation points at the Upper Baker River Dam last Thursday to watch the workmen “drop the plug” to start the lake filling.  Company officials from all parts of the district were on hand for the first big milestone in completion of the project.  The 30 ton cement and steel gates were dropped shortly after 2:00 P.M. and by the time the visitors left the water had covered the Baker River outlet portals and was rising rapidly on the dam. 

Upper Baker Dam


The lake begins to rise.



new baker lake to be center of large recreational area

During the past week water of the new Baker Dam began to raise the level of old Baker Lake, thereby starting the process in which all old familiar landmarks will soon be deep beneath the waters of a new and larger lake.  The area has been logged off and cleared until there are few recognizable spots, the most notable one being the old fish hatchery grounds.  Here the waters will rise over a most familiar spot for campers, and one not too much changed.  The old Bagnell camp across the lake, however, the spot looks little like it was known by so many thousands of visitors who have camped there over the years.  All that remains are three of the original cabins, including the old Ruth homestead house and these will soon be demolished.  . . .  In the program of setting up a recreation plan for the new Baker lake, the public camps will be of first consideration.  After these are developed to fill the needs, next consideration will be given to organization camps.  Last in line will be areas for private homes on government leases.

Baker Lake


Public camp grounds a big part of the new lake. 

“Whatever the havoc wrought by building the dam and clearing away virgin forests, the replacement will come in the way of a huge lake, plus all the mountain recreation.  The possibilities have yet to be completely explored as the entire country is ideal for horseback trips, boating, hunting, winter sports and fishing.”






A bit of quiet contemplation of the approaching development of the upper valley as recreation area that will draw tourists from all parts of the country is an interesting hobby for this writer.  Our thoughts run far ahead of these now just building logging roads, dams and normal developments based on commercial value.  The logging roads become driveways for people who wish to see some of the country now hours away by trail.  The dam provides a lake that will be the envy of the state for accessibility and rugged beauty.  . . .  Another is the fact that the formerly deep and cold Baker lake, which only the hardy found suitable for swimming, will soon have many acres of comparatively shallow water that will conceivably warm up.  . . .  A public resort, the splendid opportunities for horseback trail trips, the many beautiful mountain lakes and streams, the undeveloped hot spring, winter sports all will reach a point of decision in time.  Discovery of our assets by those us who live here should come first.

Charles Dwelley on Baker Lake Resort


Encouraged the local people discover the beauty of the new Baker Lake.



(picture caption) – at anchor

The W.T. Preston, Army Engineer Corps snag boat which has been in Mount Bernon since Sept. 4, is slated to depart this area today or tomorrow. It is pictured at anchor beside the Moose Hall. The last stern wheel paddle steamer in the Puget Sound area, the Preston comes up the Skagit River at least once a year to keep the channel free.

Picture of the Preston Sternwheeler


Last sternwheeler to come up the Skagit.



County sees no dangers to flood plan

Skagit County commissioners yesterday explained that diversion of about $45,000 in river improvement funds to the county’s current expense account will not jeopardize any flood control projects. . . .  SKAGIT COUNTY official had planned projects involving about $300,000 of state, county and dike district money during the last six months of 1959. But the state provided only $21,000 in matching money for this period and thus cut the volume of work planned.

State Matching Money Dries Up



Washington rivers flood – Skagit River level drops during night

The Skagit Valley faces no serious flood threat, despite the chance of more rain tomorrow, county officials said today. . . .  The Skagit River apparently crested in Mount Vernon at mid-morning at 22 feet. At Concrete the crest passed before midnight. Readings at the Dalles Bridge showed 25.7 feet at 8 a.m., a drop of two feet since midnight. THE COUNTY engineers office reported that the Sauk River left its banks and covered the Concrete – Darrington Road between Concrete and the Forest Service bridge over the Sauk. The Arlington-Darrington Road between was also under water, isolating the Snohomish County community of Darrington from the outside. . . .  Some 2.47 inches of rain fell in Concrete during the past 24 hours, with Sedro-Woolley reporting 1.37 inches and Mount Vernon 1.25 for the same period.

Flood Scare



Not afraid

River no threat to Charlie Storrs


Charlie Storrs has lived alongside the Skagit River for all but two of his 87 years.  . . .  Storrs, who lives on Penn Road just a stone’s throw from the west dike along the Skagit, has seen the muddy river leave its banks several times.  He’s seen all of the valley floor, from a point about a quarter of a mile west of his farm all the way to the Swinomish Channel, covered with water.  . . .  This was the “big flood” of Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 1890.  It’s been the last really big flood in Storr’s memory.  . . .  “Now, our high water usually comes in November,” Stoors said.  Since there isn’t much snow to melt, winter floods usually aren’t too bad.  . . .  His father was the man who broke the Skagit’s famed log jam, coming here from Cedar Rapids, La., on March 9, 1874, when Charlie was only two years old.  The jam was one of the worst in the history of the Pacific Northwest, extending for a distance of four miles up the river from what is now known as “Storr’s Bar”.  This is a bend in the river about two miles below Mount Vernon famous for its steelhead and salmon fishing.  The log jam, which was a solid mass of logs completely across the river, thus extended two miles beyond Mount Vernon.  It took the elder Storrs and his crew of timber workers 4½ years to clear the channel.  “They worked by hand,” Storrs said, “They had no dynamite, no cables, nothing.”

Charlie Stoor’s Flood Memory



Last really big flood was 1890???




His father worked on the old Mt. Vernon log jams.



Storr’s Bar (Young’s Bar?)



Took 4.5 years to clear log jam.



Skagit River Seen Threat

Rains, which fell almost continuously this weekend, sent creeks and other small streams over their banks and posed a possible flood threat along the Skagit River if there are any dike breaks or deluges of rain. The Skagit County Engineer’s office expected the rain-swollen debris-laden Skagit to reach a crest of 24 feet at Mount Vernon about 7 or 8 p.m. tonight. A SPOKESMAN at the office said an additional three or four feet of water could be taken care of without any serious effects if there are no dike breaks along the river. . . .  AT CONCRETE, at 31.8 feet, was some five feet over the flood stage level of 26 feet, but it was falling rapidly and there was no great danger from flooding. In the Nookachamps Creek area most of the roads are underwater and only slightly passable and farmers are cautioned to keep livestock. State Highway 17-A was blocked just east of Lyman today by about three feet of water flowing across it where a dike on Cockerham Island and across Muddy Creek broke during the night an sent the creek over its bank. . . .  At Concrete, a slide covered the backyard of the John Stadlman home in Crowfoot. Addition. Also the Shannon Lake Road on east side of the lake was blocked by a slide as well as several other roads in the area. Several small creeks in the Baker Lake area were up over their banks.



USGS 89,300 cfs, 32.17 Concrete; 91,600 cfs, 31.58 Mt. Vernon


24 feet Moose Hall gage.  31.58 new gage.


Flood stage 26 feet (downtown)?  Could handle 3 or 4 more feet.


Flood stage 26 feet Concrete?


Dikes on Cockerham.  First mention of them.


Slides in Concrete.



Marblemount, Rockport hit by big slides

. . .  Rockport, where a section of a Sauk Mountain bluff broke away was the hardest hit. Mrs. L. K. Buchanan, Rockport resident, said the slide spilled mud, rocks and logs across Highway 17-A and rolled timbers and debris into the small business section of the community. . . .  Mrs. Buchanan said another slide had blocked the highway at Jackman Creek near Van Horn. Jackman, as well as Swift, Sutter and other creeks in the area were over their banks.

Sauk Mountain Slides



Power Dams Help Spare Skagit From Flood

Skagit County was not without its high water hard work and individual hardships this week but it could thank a gentler weather man up this way, the Skagit and Baker river dam operators, and the various dike builders, that this area escaped the disaster that befell Snohomish and other counties.  . . .  Residents of the Nookachamps area took scant solace from the situation, after suffering two backups from the Skagit and seeing many of their farms once more flooded.  . . .  Seattle City Light’s Ross plant was partially shut down from Thursday morning, Nov. 19, to Monday noon of this week to reduce the amount of flood waters in the lower Skagit, Supt Paul Raver advised the Argus.  Flow at Ross was cut to the point where even with the additional water from streams feeding into the Skagit below Ross, no water was spilled over the Gorge diversion dam.  The only flow permitted at Newhalem was the normal amount necessary to operate the Gorge power house.  During the Thursday-Monday period level of Ross lake increased 2.33 feet, or by 26,000 acre feet of water.  Raver said power was cut by about 6,000 acre feet and the lost power replaced by purchase or interchange of about three million kilowatt hours of energy.

A like contribution to Skagit valley flood protection was made by Puget Sound Power and Light company with its two dams on the Baker river, one in use this winter for the first time.  Division Mgr. John Wallen in Bellingham reported to Mt. Vernon Mgr. Loft that Puget also began holding hack water early last Thursday and stored 27,000 acre feet of water that ordinarily would have gone on downstream.  It closed gates to raise the level at Upper Baker by 5 ½ feet and at the old Lower Baker dam at Concrete, another foot.  By terms of the federal power commission license, the company is not required to use the Baker dams for flood control but was glad to be ale to do so, Wallin said.

11/24/59 Flood Event

USGS figures show 89,300 cfs at Concrete or 32.17 ft river; 91,000 cfs at Sedro-Woolley; and 91,600 at Mt. Vernon or 31.58 on gage.



Residents of Nookachamps “suffer two backups” from the river.


No water came from Ross.





Baker dams not required to provide flood control but did so anyway.  Upper Baker held back 5 ½ feet of water and Lower Baker another 1 foot. 



5 in. rain brings flood-slides

The storm that struck the Northwest Sunday found the upper Skagit valley all soaked up and waiting. And as the skies poured a total of 4.98 inches more water on the soggy hills during the day things began to happen. Water went over the roads at many points from Lyman to Newhalem, slides began popping across the roads as the evening wore on. A slide on the Van Horn Cut finally shut off up-river power to add total darkness to the difficulties of the residents battling surface water and slides.  . . .  Official figures from the cement plant weather station gave the rainfall the past week as 11.85 inches, which plus the snowfall already on the ground would probably mean close to 14 inches of water. The record lists 1.19 last Tuesday; 1.31 Wednesday; .96 Thursday; 2.24 on Friday; none Saturday; but 4.98 inches on Sunday!

11/24/59 Flood Event



USGS Concrete 32.17, 89,300 cfs.; Mt. Vernon 31.58,  91.600 cfs.


11 inches of rain in 6 days.





City Light Dam Credited With Holding Flood

Seattle City Light’s Ross Dam has again helped control the flow of the Skagit River during flood conditions.  Supt. Paul Raver has revealed that Ross plant had been partially shut down from Thursday morning, November 19, to Monday noon, November 22, to reduce the amount of flood waters in the lower Skagit river.  Flow at Ross Dam was cut down to the point where even with the additional amount of water from other streams feeding into the Skagit river below Ross, no water was spilled over the Gorge Diversion dam.  The only flow at Newhalem was the normal amount necessary to operate the Gorge Powerhouse.  Water flow at Ross plant was reduced Thursday morning and not increased until some hours after the flood crest had passed.  In the interval the level of Ross Lake went up 2.33 feet (from elevation 1584.36 to 1586.69 feet).  This amounted to 26,000 acre feet of water.  Actual storage of flood waters was much greater as under normal conditions City Light would have drawn down about 6,000 acre feet to produce the power to carry the Seattle load.

11/24/59 Flood Event


USGS Concrete 32.17, 89,300 cfs.; Mt. Vernon 31.58,  91.600 cfs.



Water level behind Ross was 1584.36.  That is 8 feet below where it is during flood events now.


Ross November 20th level is 1595.6

Ross minimum winter pool at 1592.1




Grocery Store Ads

Apples 10 cents per pound.




to start immediately on plans for brand new rockport span

More details on the bridge to be built at Rockport next year were furnished this week by Commissioner Brown Wiseman of the third district, who has already set things in motion for an early call for bids next year.    Negotiations are under way to have test drillers on the job shortly after the first of the year to furnish specifications for the two piers which will be out in the stream and the two ashore, so that the details may be included in the architect’s plans.  Site of the bridge is now expected to be just east of the old City Light depot, and the north approach will be about at railroad grade.  The approach will tie in with the present street into Rockport, and the connection with highway 17-A will be at the “Y” below Benton’s store.    On the south side of the river surveys are complete to bring the bridge approach in a direct tangent from the intersection of the Sauk river and Illabot Creek roads.  The bridge will span the river at an angle to eliminate any abrupt curves. 

Boat Landing Promised

The bridge right-of-way deal includes a trade of property with City Light, who will take over the present ferry site on the north side of the river.  An agreement has been made to keep this open for a sportsman’s boat landing as long as it is not needed for use by the City.

Rockport Bridge